In today’s world of advanced technology, devices have become an integral part of our everyday lives. Few of us can live without our smartphones, for example, and the technology continues to become more intuitive with each passing day. The agricultural industry has always been an eager adopter of technological innovation. In such a physically demanding environment, machinery makes possible the sewing, harvesting, and transport of produce, in a way that a purely human workforce never could. Nowadays, we are seeing the heavy machinery of the farming landscape transform, thanks to technological advances in the field of automation.
The humble tractor has been a staple in the farming equipment line-up since its introduction to Australia in the late 1800s. Having undergone many a makeover between then and now, modern tractors are host to some impressive technological advancements. As farmers continue to tackle price fluctuations for their produce as well as increasing costs of production, adopting automated technologies such as driverless tractors can help farmers to keep up with demand while also keeping afloat. As the costs of the machines come down, and more manufacturers enter the market, it is predicted that automated tractors will begin to transform Australian farms within the next decade.
The team at the School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering led by Associate Professor Jay Katupitiya, have developed a ‘ghost tractor’ which plants and monitors the planting of each individual seed, in order to increase the ability to target pesticide use. As Professor Katupitiya says:
“You’re not going to be applying pesticides to where there are no pests. You’re not going to be applying herbicides to where there are no weeds. Increased accuracy means increased efficiency.”
As automated technology prices continue to fall, we could soon see driverless tractors completing spraying, weeding and even harvesting of crops without the need for a human workforce. Programmable routes and hazard detection make these machines a safe and attractive solution to keeping costs down and increasing productivity.Trucks and Transport Solutions
Trucks and Transport Solutions
Transport is an integral part of the supply chain for the agricultural industry. Getting produce from farm to table, in the fastest and most economical way possible, is a never-ending issue for farmers, wholesalers and the transport industry. The costs associated with transport continue to rise and represent a large portion of the total cost involved in primary production. For this reason, more reliable and efficient machines are vital.
As automotive technology improves, trucks are entering the market with increased fuel efficiency, enhanced safety options, and advanced transmissions. Each of these areas afford the user lower costs thanks to a decrease in fuel consumption, as well as improved safety for their drivers. The technological advances in transport don’t stop there, however. Trucking and transport have not missed out on attention from the automation movement, and driverless technology is making headway within the sector as we speak. In fact, Volvo has recently pioneered the development of automated trucks for the Swedish refuse removal industry, in an attempt to make the activity safer, faster and more cost-effective. This kind of automation technology has implications for the transport and distribution of Australian produce, as wholesalers look for ways to decrease their operating costs and move their goods from farm to table more quickly.
As the world’s population grows to over 9 billion by 2050, agricultural output must increase by around 25% in order to meet the increased need for food production by this time. Automation in heavy machinery will play an integral role in both the production and transportation of agricultural production, and we are sure to see yet more advances in this field over the coming years.