The evolution of mechanised solution in agricultural field keeps on growing. This fact is confirmed by the number of registered patents all over the world in agricultural sector listed by the database “EspaceNet” based on the data coming from the European Patent Office (Epo).
The database stases that in the last 10 years, the number of patents regarding the agricultural equipment has increased from 25 to 35% by pointing out the stability of the new materials, a reduction in the use of chemical product treatments and a clear growth on data and automation. In this field the patents have quadrupled.
But what do we mean by the term “agricultural automation”? We identify the technology characterized by control systems (such as logic or calculator circuits) to manage machines and working procedures by reducing human intervention and increasing the efficiency of the work.
Improving productivity with agricultural automation
The turning point of agricultural automation is tied to the evolution of the technology, above all in electronics, of the last decades. For example: in the 90s the real-time pests survey and the control of the sprayer were not possible, today the scenario is changing with increasingly intelligent machines and able to give advanced support to the field operations.
It is not easy to forecast which innovations will take hold in the Italian countryside, but all the patents registered in these last years, show that will see an increase about technologies regarding agrotechnical procedures and their automation.
New equipments for primary and secondary soil processing, as well for seeding, allow the real-time reading of humidity, temperature, level of compaction and organic substance by managing the working depth and intensity.
Precision seeding machines have been on the market since years by ensuring positive results on seeding homogeneity and germination. Other technologies available on the market are the ones regarding the possibility to detect the vegetative vigour of crops.
These are optical sensors equipped on the tractor or the machine, which detect visible or infrared light reflected by the leaves. The collected and processed data allows the calculation of index such as NDVI (Normalized Difference Vegetation Index) or NDRE (Normalized Difference Red Edge). These are confirmed to be useful to understand local variation of biomass and dose fertilizers and other products, based to the number and the vigor of plants.
When we talk about agricultural automation, we normally think of fully automatic systems such as robot. This type of machines in today’s agricultural sector are not so widespread and they only aim to very small niches of agricultural fields such as viticulture and horticulture. This obviously excluding prototypes under development in Universities.
Equipment with hydraulic, pneumatic or electric implements are much more common. These machines, thanks to signals coming from different sensors, can
- correct the pressure on the ground or the position of the selector on the seeder,
- optimize the working depth of the power harrow,
- correct the position of the blades,
- allow the weeding in the row between plants.
The future scenario seems to determine further growth in this direction, by offering more interesting innovations that include collection phases. In this case the target is to optimize the appreciation of the final product and integrate optical sensors (infrared spectroscopes, multispectral or others) to control the quality on terms of protein content, sugar content or humidity or verify the presence of contaminations or foreign matters.
To sum up, agricultural automation allows to optimize the production of the crops by reducing energy consumption and therefore emissions and costs. Smart systems are set up to operate in a continuous cycle without margin of error. Human interaction is and always will be fundamental for the supervision of these operations.
Forigo Roter Italia, with its innovative solutions, confirms itself as the undisputed leader in the design of advanced machines from the point of view of agricultural automation. Want to know more? Take a look at our catalog, or, contact us: we will be happy to answer all your questions and curiosities to guide you in choosing the best product for your farm.