The world of agriculture never sleeps, and technological solutions designed to streamline the industry are springing up all the time – whether it’s in developing our alternative meat industry or finding novel ways to improve crop efficiency, innovators from across the globe are stepping up to meet the challenges posed by a rising population. We took a few headlines from around the world from recent weeks, to get a more holistic snapshot of what the sector has in store.
Driverless AgTech firm Raven Industries debuted its latest autonomous vehicle tech at the Farm Progress Show earlier this month – one of the largest public farm shows in America. The group’s OMNiDRIVE system can be retrofitted onto tractors to make them driverless – allowing the user to monitor and operate the vehicle remotely, as well as sync it to harvesting equipment.
Salisbury-based startup Small Robot Company has raised £4m ($5.5m) in its crowdfunding campaign, which closed at the end of August this year. The money is to be used to progress its pipeline of small robots that can be deployed at sites to map terrain, kill weeds and undergo no-till drilling – tending to food crops in what the company says is a ‘Per Plant Farming’ approach. The group’s three robots (named Tom, Dick and Harry) are tied together using AI to identify weeds and gather data on each plant surveyed.
Sydney-side alternative meat company Vow has partnered with Nourish – an animal-free fat and oils firm- to create a new plant-based protein range. Under the collaboration, the partners will blend their products together to create an end result that they say will better replicate the taste and ‘mouthfeel’ of meat.
Pinduoduo, China’s largest online agricultural platform, has launched a new scheme dubbed ‘10 Billion Agriculture Initiative’ to accelerate the digitalisation and development of sustainable ag-tech in the country. Pinduoduo currently works to connect farmers with consumers through its mobile platform which, in 2019, saw nearly 12 million farmers selling their produce to users of the app.
A drone technology demonstration was undertaken by the Agriculture Research Station in Pedapuram on Thursday last week (2 September) to test the viability of adopting drone technology in the agricultural industry. The tech is being considered as a potential solution to the current problems of labour scarcity, as well to reduce production costs. Maize farmers have been given a kit containing spraying equipment to trial, and have been told to explore the possibilities of using drone technology.