UAS use in Agriculture leads to productivity
It is widely believed in Georgia that the integration of airspace with unmanned aircraft would play an important role in country’s Agriculture. UVSI Atlanta Chapter’s Unmanned Systems aim for the same issue in the Agricultural Conference 2014 held in Tifton, Ga. The conference highlighted the importance of farming in the Peach State, and the companies’ imminent advancement in unmanned agricultural market.
According to Bo Warren, director of Georgia Center of Innovation for Agribusiness, agricultural industry in Georgia is $13.9 billion business and have many opportunities for its growth in upcoming years. He said that the business results in poultry production, adds 345 million to cotton market for making denim jeans, and reaps 49% of all peanuts in U.S.
He further stated, “Why is agriculture important?… In the past 50 years, our world population has doubled to 6.8 billion people. World population is expanding about 3.3 people per second, so that’s 300 people every 90 seconds. By 2050, our world population will have grown by more than 2.5 billion people, … and farmers will need to produce more food in the past 50 years than they have in the past 10,000 years combined.”
To explain it further, he added that a land with fewer resources and smaller area could make more food with the help of technology. Since the airspace industry makes up to 6% of the state’s GDP and 5% of workforce, it is one of the keys to enhance Georgia’s agriculture. He also said that in order to combine the unmanned aircraft system industries and agriculture, Georgia’s six centers of innovation that come under Georgia Department of Economic Development must elevate their aerospace innovation centers and agribusiness.
A professional from Vision Services Group-Unmanned, Ben Worley talked about the structure of the UAS operation’s business model on farm. Vehicle Guidance system (VGS), formed in 2013 in Atlanta, is working on the provision of data services through UAS to the farmers.
“People tend to overlook these requirements when they are using this technology,” he said.
According to him, using unmanned aircraft system is not just about flying; it includes the system’s maintenance throughout its existence that is achieved with training and safety. He mentioned that although the UAS can be implemented to industries like public safety and forestry, its use in Agriculture leads to largest productivity.
“You have to look at it as UAS is a tool. It’s a means to an end,” he said. … “The point is not the UAV itself; the point is to be able to apply that technology to be able to make a better decision.”
The main aim of VSG was to be a full-service operations provider focusing solely on the provision of data received from the unmanned aircraft to the farmers.
“We see that as a lot of consumers either are so busy with their permanent jobs… and so for them this makes a great fit,” he said. “You’re not having to expend resources unnecessarily.”
Innovative Technology to Boom Georgia Business
Georgia’s future can still be reformed with the use of new technologies other than agriculture.
According to Doug Britton from Georgia Tech’s Agricultural Technology Research Program, Automated system technology, used for manufacturing, might also influence successful poultry industry in Georgia.
He says that one of the major tasks of deboning chicken must be coordinated with the automated systems that would keep in mind the safety hazards as well. While working on his new research of building an imaging system for guiding a blade to pass through the internal structure of chicken, he says that he came across with some of the issues. It was a quite a tough task as the chicken appeared in different weights and sizes.
He cleared some of the issues regarding the integration of agriculture and technology by mentioning about the partnership programs that Georgia is looking forward to. This would help them in pursuing bigger challenges like those that DARPA does in the area of robotics.
An expert from Dorhout R&D, David Dorhout discussed robot Aquarius, which the company has designed to help water and work with in the green house effectively. He stated, “Greenhouses are actually a really harsh environment, a new employee is more likely to catch sunburn without even realizing it.” He also emphasized that watering properly could be high-stake work.
He had an experience of working on an engineering plant discovery group project, where every plant, worth around $1,000, required watering three to four times a day, weekends inclusive. That was the reason behind the invention of Aquarius robot that would help in watering the plants instead of workers.
The moisture sensors attached to the robot are capable of reaching into the pot of soil. By determining the needs of plants, it provides a specific amount of moisture necessary for each plant. It can also be programmed to water a particular amount to every plant without considering their needs.
“Some groups didn’t need that kind of precision, so another [method] was to just have a sentinel, representative pot,” he said. “You can save money that way.”
Since a farmer can easily put aside 10% of his land for research and advancements, the addition of innovative technology could help in changing the whole process of farming.
“What if we were able to create these machines that were able to carry out instructions from the farm so that they were able to make these farm decisions, plant by plant, and adapt over the season, allowing the farmer to focus on the business and the science of farming?” he said.