June 13th Posted In Machine Technology

Will Robotics Change the Face of Farming?

If there are any differences between the types of equipment used on small-scale farms compared to large scale, it will generally be in the scale and the degree of the specialisation. Whilst initially, the unit cost of robotics will be targeted at the larger companies which can afford to buy the technology in bulk, if and when robotic technology gains full momentum, price reductions may occur, bringing robotic resources within an acceptable, justifiable and affordable range for the smaller scale producer.

The small-scale producers cultivating top-end, artisan products often have a greater financial capacity to invest in more specialised equipment for its operations. These producers, who make craft beer or fine wine, might turn to the latest start-up businesses developing small robots to take on these jobs.

For smaller scale farmers at the opposite end of the production spectrum, new robotic technologies are not always economically viable. Innovation often comes at a large price. Effectively, these companies are reliant on the movement of large-scale farmers; if larger scale, corporate farmers invest in robotic technology, the price will be lowered, making this kind of equipment more accessible to smaller companies further down the chain.

Fortunately, corporate farmers are seeing the benefits of robotic technologies, particularly as robots provide clear savings on energy and production costs. Unlike tractors, smaller robots, often taking the shape of miniature four-wheel machines, can zip around larger fields at more efficient paces, reaching areas which larger equipment cannot. Farmers can plant seeds right in the corners of large spaces, as nimble robots aren’t necessarily motored to perform linearly, as with bulky tractors.

Smaller, more modern equipment might come at a larger price initially, however the market should see price reductions once robotics become commonplace. For robotics to become accessible across the farming chain, the movement must come from the top. Ultimately, the rise of robotics is dependent on whether the equipment will be of an economic benefit to large-scale producers. And only time will tell.