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Allies and Enemies of Agricultural Automation
Over the last decade, agricultural automation has developed at a very high level, to which Spanish companies, universities and research centers have contributed enormously. But more specifically in the Region of Murcia, where many of these technological development niches are located and which has allowed it to achieve international recognition and become a world reference in terms of automation, efficiency, savings and optimisation of resources as scarce and expensive as water.
To continue this high-level development, it is necessary to know which are the main allies of agricultural automation, and which are its enemies or difficulties to be faced.
Among the main allies of agricultural automation are:
• Experience and robustness of its systems: this has been achieved because farmers, producers, research centers and universities have endorsed, contrasted and tested these systems for decades.
• Efficiency in the use of resources: an average saving in operating costs of between 20-30% has been achieved, in some cases up to 55%.
• Optimisation and improvement of processes: reduction of manpower in processes that can be automated, helping to minimize the probability of error and allowing this manpower to be allocated to other tasks that cannot yet be automated.
• Social trend towards ecologically oriented agriculture: consumers want to know at all times what resources are being used and are beginning to demand this from the markets: water footprint, fertilizer consumption, etc.
On the contrary, the biggest enemy of automation is:
• Lack of training or practice of the end-user: either farmers or technicians in charge of operations. Ignoring all the benefits that irrigation equipment, fertigation, monitoring, etc. can bring can lead to choosing equipment that is not suitable for the crop or not adapted to the required needs.
It is important that both technicians and advisors, as well as the farmers themselves, have a good knowledge of the handling and characteristics of the existing equipment on the market, in order to have all the necessary information for the correct choice and handling of the devices that best adapt to the crop, its capacities, investment volumen, etc. in order to get the maximum performance out of the installation.