Technology: One Acre A Day Versus Two In An Hour

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7 months ago - 3 minutes read

Technology can solve labor shortages. This is something we know. Yet, it is a lesson that we keep having driven home.

And here is another story that shows how things keep marching along.

When it comes to technology, actually automation, few industries are seeing progress at the pace of agriculture. Considering how vital this is for society along with the aforementioned labor shortages, companies are looking at bringing out products that can really help farmers. This is called "AgTech" and it is having an amazing impact.

It is not only solving problems, it is also saving money.


Autonomous Weed Killer

This is an area that made some headlines over the past few years.

Weeds are one of the biggest problems that those in agriculture face. To treat them requires either a lot of manual labor doinng painstaking work or the use of chemicals that can harm the plants along with water supplies.

Technology is stepping up with a solution. As we can see, this product in the picture is able to handle large areas of land at amazing speed. This particular weeder is put out by a company called Carbon Robotics. It is their third generation of this model.

The secret to this is that it uses high powered lasers to kill the weeds. As the machine moves along the field, it will identify the weeds and burn them. The key to the device is that it is fast.

The Autonomous Weeder can eliminate more than 100,000 weeds per hour and weed 15 to 20 acres of crops in one day — for comparison, Myers said a laborer can weed about one acre of his onions per day.

This is an amazing difference. Instead of paying 15-20 laborers to do this work, one machine will match their total productivity.

While the cost isn’t listed on Carbon Robotics’ website, the company says that growers using the LaserWeeder are finding that it cuts their weeding costs by 80% and pays for itself in two to three years.

Here is a short video about the product.

Machines Getting Smarter

As the video covers, this involved advanced computer vision and deep learning. We are seeing advancements in this areas that are resulting in breaktaking abilities.

Automation is often framed as a threat because it does replace labor. There is no doubt that the field of bookkeeping is significantly smaller due to the creation of software such as Quickbooks. It is a process we see across the board.

Obviously, this is not a general product. The design is very specific in what it is meant to do. This machine kills weeds; it does it quickly and inexpensively. This is the world that we are moving towards.

While there are jobs lost, the reality is that here is a situation where the jobs suck. Pulling weeds is awful. Anyone who spent a Saturday morning in a backyard garden understands this. Imagine doing this work for 8-10 hours per day, 5 days a week.

Replacing these jobs that most do not want to do and having a machine handle it is better for everyone. After all, didn't we invent the crane to lift heavy objects to high levels so we could expedite construction. A backhoe is able to replace many people with shovels, work that few miss.

As we started for the last few years, this decade is going to see amazing innovations. Technology is only advancing forward. Just think about where this machine will be by the time the 5th generation is brought out. What will it look like come 2027 or 2028?

This is how things evolve. We see advancement in many different areas progressing, which converges in one product. With this one, we have machine learning, cameras, and laser technology. Each area is seeing its own pace of advancement. All three are combined in the same machine to eliminate weeds faster, more accurately, and for less money.

It is likely that, in 5 years, whatever the cost today, a similar product with more features will be available for less money.

Once in a while, it is good to be reminded of what is taking place out there. Things are not slowing down, they are only getting faster.

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