The agriculture industry has seen unprecedented changes in the last several decades. Farmers and ranchers need to produce more food than ever before while also farming with sustainable practices. Climate change, water availability, and an ever-growing population are just some of the challenges farmers face. Improving productivity, efficiency, and crop yield while minimizing environmental impacts is what the industry is looking toward.
Agriculture experts work with companies and farmers to implement mechatronics and smart agriculture practices. The combination of mechatronics and smart agriculture is the key to a more sustainable future in farming.
Mechatronics is defined as a system that combines computer controls, electrical components, and mechanical parts. Such systems are used in many different fields but are specifically used in agriculture to assist in sustainable and efficient practices. Some examples of mechatronics used in agriculture include robots, digital data, position sensing, sonar sensors, light detection sensors, imaging sensors, and estimation of vehicle dynamic states. These incredible technologies are integrated into farming machineries such as tractors, automated seeding, crop monitoring and analysis systems, spraying, and fertilization. Mechatronics also allows for the integration of smart irrigation systems that optimize water use and crop yield by controlling the amount of water applied to crops through sensors.
New technologies through mechatronics have made way for smart agriculture or precision farming to be a reality. These terms refer to the way farmers collect, process, and access data to inform farming decisions. Combined with best management practices, the technologies can respond to specific needs and demands that ultimately improve crop yield, productivity, and sustainability. For example, the use of digital images where light reflects off plants and soil assists farmers in monitoring crop growth. Drone technologies are used in a variety of ways including fertilizing, surveying soil, pest control, irrigation needs, and crop growth.
Considerations for a Sustainable Future
The adoption of mechatronic systems and implementation of smart agriculture does not come without its challenges. For new technologies to be efficient, the correct systems must be in place to sustain and optimize innovations. Managing precision agriculture practices is a conversation agriculture experts are having. To see significant impacts in sustainability, widespread adoption of smart agriculture practices should be implemented. Some considerations in this adoption include managing new systems, considering economic risks and cash flow, using technologies accurately, and ensuring quality is not exchanged for quantity.
Agricultural productivity is rising as the industry adopts smart agriculture practices with the use of mechatronics. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Innovation Agenda aims to increase production by 40% by 2050. New systems must be adopted so this goal can become a reality. The future of agriculture depends heavily on implementing smart agriculture practices to increase production and meet the rising challenges. Agriculture experts around the world are committed to encouraging and supporting this effort for a more sustainable future.