In a world where technological advancements happen on an almost daily basis, what does modern global agriculture have to offer the producers of Myanmar today? Let’s take a closer look at my top five that, while they may be on the distant horizon for our local agriculture industries, they certainly give us something to look forward to. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the future.
Tractors on Autopilot
Tractors, combines, sprayers and an increasingly wide variety of modern farming equipment can accurately navigate through fields on autopilot. Thanks to GPS technology, the user (farmer) has to program the onboard computer with the relevant information on the area to be covered for a particular task and the GPS system will track and monitor the vehicle as it extrapolates a path into parallel lines, taking into account the width of the tool in use. Not limited to straight lines, the tracking system controls the vehicle’s steering system, keeping it on a true path and negating the need for a human operator, who can concentrate on more important things – it can even remove certain aspects of human error from processes, while economising fuel and vehicle usage hours.
Allowing equipment to communicate with farmers, equipment suppliers and servicers and even other equipment, telematics is considered the next big thing in the industry.
Consider this scenario: There is a problem in the field and work must stop. This new technology can use its onboard diagnostic systems to identify the problem and will contact the manufacturer and/or servicer and relay the relevant information so that a solution may be found. In many cases, the problem may be resolved remotely, which saves time, travelling and money.
Farmers are also now able to track which equipment is in which field, vehicular hours of operation and fuel consumption and much more. Tractors are now able to communicate with one another, a prime example of which is a combine and a grain cart; the cart can pull up beside the combine to transfer the load without having to stop. The same technology can then inform the operator that the cart is full, which can be particularly useful when using one cart and two combines.
One of the most recent innovations related to this technology is the ability for the operator to take wireless control of the cart as it drives alongside the combine in order to make minor adjustments to the cart’s path for a more effective transfer.
Mobile technology is playing an increasingly important role in the controlling and monitoring of crop irrigation systems. A farmer can now control his entire irrigation system remotely from a smartphone or computer.
Moisture sensors placed in the soil transmit data about current moisture levels at various depths in the ground. More precise control over inputs like water and fertiliser are applied by irrigation pivots, which can be combined with other tech (such as VRT) to control the rate at which inputs are applied. The entire concept is receiving positive reviews for its effective and efficient use of resources; because of such technologies, total water usage could potentially be lower than the amount of water previously wasted, which is extremely significant in terms of water conservation.
Modern ultrasound technology can not only be used to determine characteristics of unborn animals, it can be used to check the quality of meat before the animal goes to market. Animals with desirable qualities and good pedigree can be identified prior to birth via DNA testing, which can provide information that can be used to improve the herd quality and the farmer’s bottom line.
This groundbreaking technology allows crop sensors to tell application equipment in real time how much fertiliser needs to be applied. Optical sensors can scan plants to determine how much fertiliser is needed from the amount of light being reflected from the plant.
Crop sensors are a new technology, but the potential is extremely high. Farmers are now able to apply fertiliser in an incredibly effective manner, maximising uptake while reducing runoff into ground water and potential leaching.
Definitely something to look forward to.