AgTech: Robotic tractors and Geo-tagged Cows Could Represent Farmings Future

ROBOTIC tractors and geo-tagged cows could be the future of farming as the agriculture industry meets the Internet of Things.

Industry body Agri-Tech East, which represents firms working in the agriculture and technology sectors, held its latest pollinator event, entitled The Internet of (agri-tech) Things at St John's Innovation Centre in Cambridge last week.

Backed by Microsoft Research, the event saw delegates hear from experts on what the future of the industry might look like.

First up was Matthew Bailey of Cambridge firm NWave Technologies, which provides hardware and software to enable IoT connections, and has been heavily involved in the development of Weightless-N.

He said water usage was a big issue facing farming, and that increased deployment of sensors could help increase efficiency.

"We have to use technology to optimise the use of water, because many areas of the world are facing real challenges with changes in precipitation," he said. "A project in Georgia, USA, is using NWave moisture sensors to monitor soil on a farm, and has reduced water usage by 40% as well as increasing crop yields."

Alastair Taylor, chief executive of the Institute of Agricultural Engineers, told the audience that a Combine Harvester has two or three times more sensors than the average Formula One car.

"Farmers are often perceived as 'straw-sucking yokels', and the challenge is to show people that the industry has moved on from some of the technology that was in use 75 years ago," he said.

"I think the future could include more use of autonomous vehicles. I'm talking about small tractors that you could carry about under your arm, and then release so that it would automatically water a crop."

Source : Cambridge-news