The pandemic is not only on the streets but also on farms. Agricultural practices are changing under the effects of Covid-19. Learn how automation systems shape the future of agriculture.
It was found that 50% of the agricultural workforce is at moderate to high risk to be tested positive for Covid-19. From the beginning of the pandemic, only in the US, more than 480,000 agricultural workers have tested positive. COVID-19-related travel restrictions and illness are estimated to result in a shortage of 80,000 agricultural workers in the UK, while Spain has a shortage of around 70,000-80,000 workers and Italy 250,000. Also, panic-buying and food stockpiling by consumers, and national trade-related policy responses to the pandemic, especially any limitations on exports, may result in food shortages.
Agriculture has already been one of the biggest sectors that have to deal with the climate crisis, risk of overpopulation due to rapid population growth, poverty, and water crisis on top of the pandemic. As a result of all these problems, we need to start changing our traditional agricultural practices as soon as possible. Automation systems will be the cornerstone of this change.
So, what do we mean when we say automation systems in agriculture? In farming, especially in greenhouses, routine works take too much time. Controlling the irrigation, fertigation, lighting, temperature, and humidity is an everyday task for a farmer and if it isn’t automated, there is a need for someone to be on the farm and control the systems at all times. With automation systems, routine works can be done automatically and remotely, which helps farmers to find more time for observation and analysis to get better harvests.
In greenhouse automation, sensors and IoT technology are commonly used. With these technologies in the greenhouse, it is possible to automatically detect the changes in the environmental conditions in real-time, turn the respective systems on and off accordingly, and save the measurement data for analysis afterward. On top of this, cloud-based IoT systems connect all systems in the farm with the farmer’s smartphone, tablet, or PC. So, the routine and time-consuming work on the farm becomes easily manageable. Besides the sensors and IoT technology, for the next step in automation, drones, robots, and Artificial Intelligence applications for agriculture started to be developed recently.
After a brief introduction, we can talk about the benefits of making a greenhouse automated. First of all, when you start to use automation systems on your farm, you not only make your tasks significantly easier but also improve your ability to produce according to your customers’ standards and improve the ecological sustainability of your operations. Especially with the Covid-19 pandemic, consumers are more conscious about their food. Demand for untouched food is getting more and more widespread as consumers want less human interference because of health concerns. By implementing automation systems in greenhouses, human interference is reduced from plant growing processes and it becomes safer in the context of foodborne diseases. Besides, there is an increasing demand for food because of population growth. To be able to respond to this demand, harvest yield should be increased while using less field, source, and workforce. Automation systems not only increase the harvest yield but also the quantity of the harvest by optimizing the conditions that are important in the plant growing process. So, with less effort and source, much more food can be grown. In a word, automation means efficiency.
When we look at the ecological responsibility side, it is an obligation to save on water, electricity, and fertilizer. There are climate, water, and food crisis that affect lots of people. These crises are big threats to the future of our world and radical changes should be made in every sector. Using automation systems in greenhouses is one of the best ways for saving. In automated greenhouses, you can reduce 25 to 40 percent in energy, water, and fertilizer usage. This also means an important amount of cost-saving for you.
At the beginning of our blog, we mentioned the labor shortage as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Making greenhouses automated is one of the solutions for this problem. With automated and remote control systems, you can handle lots of works without going to the farm. Even if there are fewer farmworkers in the greenhouse, they will have time and energy to take care of plants because that routine and time-consuming works are done by automated systems.
Besides all of these benefits and necessities, we can understand your concern about the cost and the setup process of automation systems. Although most of the current systems can be difficult to afford for most farmers, not all automation systems are that costly. ForFarming automation and remote control system can be set up on your farm with widespread, affordable off-the-shelf equipment and little effort. Besides, you can set the systems on your farm by yourselves. If you have already equipment on your farm, you don’t need to buy new ones, ForFarming can utilize the existing devices without any extra buying cost. So, turning your greenhouse into an automated farm is an easy and cost-saving process.
In the agriculture sector, there is still big potential in the meaning of developing with technology. The usage of sensors and IoT is increasing day by day and drones, robots, and AI technologies are getting more and more common. We believe, all over the world, every farm will be automated and managed with technology in the future. Both for the crises that humanity and the environment are faced with, usage of smart agricultural technology is one of the important steps to solve them and save our world.