The world’s food producers have huge challenges today and more are coming on the horizon. Labor shortages, severe weather patterns, and the growing world population is putting a strain on farmers and the rest of the agriculture industry. Scientists and engineers are searching for ways to deal with these challenges. Here’s how machine vision is revolutionizing farming.
Machine Vision Is Changing Farming As We Know It
Many people today would probably say farming is one of the least tech-heavy industries there is. But they would be wrong. In recent decades, farming has begun to rely on cutting-edge technologies. Automated farm equipment can till, sow, and harvest within tolerances of inches. Robots are doing weed control. And automation makes packing and shipping crops faster.
Machine vision is critical to the farming revolution that is occurring right now. In the past, farmers often had to water or treat entire crops with pesticides because it was impossible to keep track of specific areas. But machine vision-enabled cameras and drones can keep a constant “eye” on the field. Always-on surveillance systems alert farmers when they need to remedy disease or drought.
Benefits of Machine Vision Now and Soon to Come
Even the best farmers on earth can’t give their crops the kind of attention to detail that machine vision can. Drones with the ability to capture multispectral imagery can cover tens of thousands of acres each day. Zipping high overhead, they can send back images for processing sharp enough that computer vision systems can count the number of insects on a single leaf.
Finding weeds before they infiltrate healthy crops is a challenge for many farms. Machine vision systems can detect weed growth, identify the type of weed, assess the threat, and sound the alarm. Instead of having to dump a cocktail of herbicides on crops, farmers can use only the products needed. The machine vision system can then even monitor the effectiveness of the herbicides and report whether or not they are working.
Machine vision can help the agriculture industry to overcome the challenges that face it. As the population goes up and the labor pool fails to keep up, farmers will be able to accomplish more by relying on automated systems to maintain growth and efficiency while they focus on the more critical, problem-solving aspects of the job.