4 March, 2021

Technology for a sustainable farming future

26 June, 2020

Agriculture in the future will see increasing use of scientifically precise farming techniques, where automated ‘agro-bots’ monitor, treat and work the land, using advanced technology designed to help maximise yields and minimise disease. With its extensive experience in automation and agricultural mechanisation, Yanmar is one of the companies showing the way in advanced field robotics research.

 Time for change in our changing times?

It’s hard to think of a more important economic sector than agriculture. This is an industry that directly affects the lives of everyone the world over, despite being beset by challenges from all sides. Changes in temperature and precipitation are influencing crop yields; farmers and agricultural workers are directly exposed to the effects of weather extremes, while millions more in food-related jobs are already feeling the impact of our changing climate.

Furthermore, consumers today are increasingly aware of the issue of chemicals used in producing their food and demand sustainable production of ever tastier, higher quality produce. Finding the best way to deal with these issues and while meeting environmental pressures is causing many governments to turn to automation specialists and technology experts to try and improve the lot of the farmer, meet consumer demands, and tackle the myriad challenges confronting the industry.

 Smart farming research with SMASH in Italy

Increased automation and technology within agriculture is nothing new in itself of course – in fact, it’s been happening ever since the Industrial Revolution. But what is new is how technology is being used to tackle problems related to food disease control and unstable weather patterns. The focus is now on achieving desired yields in an environmentally sustainable way, with a continuous focus on reducing the amount and type of chemicals used.

Drought, flooding and the appearance of new pests and diseases are, however, now a threat on all continents. Even Europe faces a challenge right across its farming systems. This is especially true of countries such as Italy, which faced a 57% plunge in its 2018 olive harvest – the worst in 25 years – as a result of climate change, according to scientists.

With its European research facility nestled in the hills above Florence, Italy, Yanmar R&D Europe (YRE) is well placed to focus on a variety of field-based studies to bring added value to the agriculture industry – and possibly even attract a new generation of workers to the land. These include the two-year, four-million Euros ‘SMASH’ project being carried out in cooperation with 10 technology partners to develop a mobile agricultural ‘eco-system’ to monitor, analyse and manage agricultural crops.

The acronym stands for ‘Smart Machine for Agricultural Solutions Hightech’, and this project was co-financed by the Tuscany local government. It consists of the development of a modular robotic platform that employs the latest information communications technology to examine crops and soils, analyse gathered information and provide clear, actionable information to farmers to support crop management.

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