Agriculture is a critical industry for mankind – as our population continues to grow, it is vital for us to develop an efficient industry that produces sufficient healthy food that no-one needs to go hungry. With serious concerns about the nutritional content of the topsoil needed for food production and their own economic survival, farmers have already been using advanced (and in some parts of the world, simple) technology for several years to improve crop yields and field maintenance, using the umbrella term, Precision Farming. The main technologies in use are high precision positioning systems, automated steering systems, geomapping, sensors and remote sensing, integrated communication systems, and variable rate technology. In terms of the technologies we are tracking, this includes AI, autonomous vehicles, and drones. Get more details

As the availability of human labors on farms is becoming increasingly limited, the productivity provided by technology rarely involves actual job loss. The exception being crop picking, which traditionally has been provided by migrant workers.



Tiny drones replacing bees as pollinators (Drone/Bees – 2018-03 – TechRepublic)

UK farmers can use this soft robot to help with crop picking (Robotics/Farmwork – 2018-03 – ZDNet)

Use of robotics to handle labour shortage on the farm (Robotics/Farmwork&Bees – 2018-03 – TechRepublic)

Drone technologies could increase farmers’ productivity by 500 percent (Drone/Farming – 2018-02 – TechRepublic)

Using robots to develop drought-resistant corn crops (Robotics – 2018-01 – ZDNet)


AI-powered weed hunters could soon reduce the need for herbicides and genetically modified crops (Robotics - 2018-05 - MIT Technology Review)

Robots, like the one created by ecoRobotix, will be able to roll through fields, using computer vision to target and spray individual weeds as they go. EcoRobotix claims its robo-brigade will decrease total herbicide use by a factor of 20.

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Tiny drones replacing bees as pollinators (Drones/Bees - 2018-03 - TechRepublic)

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev is developing a small, artificial bee, currently in the format of a drone. Some plants can pollinate, only if there’s enough wind. Some plants need a current location of the pollination onto the flower itself. We are currently creating enough wind.

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Use of Robotics to handle labour shortage on the farm (Robotics/Farmwork&Bees - 2018-03 - TechRepublic)

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev has a long history of robotics research, with a fast-growing area being agriculture. Projects include a calibrated, intelligent sprayer that can identify grapes and leaves, applying sprays accurately; A small drone to pollinate flowers, and tomato flowers; and a sweet pepper harvesting-robot.

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Robots could replace human crop pickers (Robotics/Farmwork - 2018-03 - ZDNet)

Researchers from the University of Plymouth have created GummiArm, a soft robot capable of crop picking, which has two arms and soft joints. Cameras and sensors built into the robot’s ‘hands’ produce 3D models of objects in real-time, allowing the robot to assess which produce — such as cauliflower, cabbage, or broccoli — to pick or to leave. Soft joints and appendages backed up by robotic materials can provide the strength to pick without damaging crops. Commercialization is expected in the next two to three years.

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Drone technologies could increase farmers' productivity by 500 percent (Drone/Farming - 2018-02 - TechRepublic)

Drones are being used across the world, with the help of DroneDeploy software, to enable field surveillance, and detect issues (relating for example to weed detection and planting needs,), and provide farm equipment with the data to fix the issues. Drones only cost about $1,000, and the software another $1,000.

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Smartphone ap identifies diseases in cassava plants (AI/DiseaseDetection - 2017-10 - The Download)

Wired reports that researchers have developed a lightweight image-recognition AI that uses transfer learning to identify diseases in the cassava plant based on just 2,756 pictures of cassava leaves. It can reliably identify three crop diseases and two types of pest damage, including discerning brown leaf spot with 98 percent accuracy. The app can operate on a smartphone and doesn’t need to send data to the cloud for processing.

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Autonomous robots plant, tend, and harvest entire crop of barley (AI/AutonomousVehicles - 2017-09 - IEEE Spectrum)

Harper Adams University (UK) researchers have managed to plant, tend, and harvest 1.5 acres of barley using only autonomous vehicles and drones. No human set foot on the field, although remote management was required. Person-free precision farming seems like an increasingly viable way to help keep the world fed.

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A robot could replace traditional strawberry farming and harvesting - and that of other fruits and vegetables (AI/FruitPicking - 2017-09 - FastCompany)

Octinion, the Belgium R&D company, is building a robot that could replace traditional strawberry farming and harvesting. The robot is designed to work with the trending “tabletop” growing systems, where strawberries are grown in trays. The small robot moves through rows of strawberries, using machine vision to locate ripe, flawless berries, then reaching up with a 3D-printed hand to gently pluck each berry and place it in a basket for sale. If it feels that a berry isn’t ready for harvest, the robot estimates the date it will be ready for it to return and pick it. Pilot testing will begin with strawberry farmers in 2018, with sales expected in 2019. Plans are to adapt the robot to pick other produce like peppers, tomatoes, and cucumbers.

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Myanmar is using drones to plant a forest (Drone/Forestry - 2017-08 - FastCompany)

For the past 5 years, villagers in the Irrawaddy River delta in Myanmar have manually planted 2.7 million mangrove trees trying to restore an ecosystem that has been disappearing for decades. Drones, from startup BioCarbon Engineering, can plant up to 100,000 trees in a day, leaving the villagers to focus on care for the young trees. The drone technology involves a first pass to map the topography and soil quality, leading to a second pass to plant the best species in the best locations by firing seed pods to penetrate the soil.

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Using precision agriculture to control herbicide-resistant weeds in Brazil (AI/PrecisionAgriculture - 2017-07 -

Multiple species of Glyphosate-resistant weeds are spreading in the main producing regions of Brazil, mainly where glyphosate-resistant crops, such as soybean, corn, and cotton, have been cultivated. Real-time localized weed spraying is based on plant identification by the sensor, and instant application of herbicide only on the target, working 24-hours/day. Critical is the extremely fast speed of the nozzle control valves.

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Robots wielding water knives are the future of farming (Robotics/Farming - 2017-05 - Wired)

Robots roll through a fields spitting clouds of vapor while cutting lettuce heads with water knives – super-high-pressure beams – and gobbling up the produce. The heads roll up its mouth and onto a conveyor belt, where workers in hoodies and aprons grab the lettuce and tear off the loose leaves. California farms are facing a serious labor shortage of perhaps 20%. Robots pick up the slack, and jobs are not lost. Choice of lettuce types is adapted to the robot’s design.

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Automated apple picking in 2018 (Robotics/FruitPicking - 2017-05 - Scientific American)

Abundant Robotics in California has built an automated apple picker, that recognizes ripe apples and uses a vacuum system to suck them off of the trees.

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Robot on guy-wire swings over crops (Robotics/CropMonitoring - 2017-04 - MIT Technology Review)

The robot’s onboard cameras keep a watchful eye on crops so that large fields needn’t be constantly tended by farmers. It swings its arms to traverse a guy-wire strung up across a patch of land in a motion modeled after energy-efficient sloths.

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Legal cannabis market to create 300,000 US jobs by 2020 (General/Marijuana - 2017-02 - Forbes)

New Frontier Data’s annual overview of the cannabis industry found that the legal weed market will create close to 300,000 jobs by 2020. Forbes magazine reported that the market for legal cannabis, currently estimated at $7.2 billion, is projected to grow at a 17% annual rate.

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