Automation

SadAnt

New member
Messages
5
I'm looking into farming because I'm a bit perplexed as to why we can fully automate cars and shit but not farms. I'm interested in hearing thoughts on ways this could be done and whether or not it's worth doing. It's more of a thought experiment, but it's been on my mind and I'm interested in perhaps making a model for it. With buildings and climate control and vertical farming I'm currently thinking about if you had layers of grains like wheat could you not have a tractor blade at the end and have it roll down the tracks then load off that into a conveyor belt and process it? What other crops do you think would work well with this? I'm also thinking about cranberries since you could grow them then get ready to harvest and flood the area and have the machine go over it? Currently, I'm just brainstorming and with covid, I can't go to a farm and just look at what they do and sifting through YouTube videos that explain well how tractor blades work without having to learn how some random guys life is growing and what model of tractor and jazz that I am bored by. I guess what I'm asking is for a conversation to be started that would be better than searching for vague things when I have something specific in mind and don't feel like watching fifty videos for the specific piece of information I want. Is anyone interested in showing me how your farms are set up? I'm no expert and I would love the input!
 

The Big Cowhuna

Farm Hand
Messages
102
Automation doesn't work as well with living things and if you think about it, crops are living things and so are livestock. Living things are unpredictable. Some of your ideas might work, but I think they'd be more expensive than what we already have going, especially the cranberry idea. I like the way you think, though. Keep your thoughts coming!
 

Henderson

Golden Chicken
Messages
128
@SadAnt, I think we've gotten better at automating some things like feeding herds of livestock. The industry has definitely come a long way when it comes to using tech to monitor crops and livestock, so who knows what the future holds. It's amazing that you're thinking about this stuff, and you're not even a farmer. I try so hard to engage my grandchildren in these discussions and they act like it's boring. It feels good to know that someone out there is interested in making the process easier and more reliable.

@The Big Cowhuna, they do in fact use flooding to harvest cranberries. It's called flood harvesting. I only know that because watching a cranberry juice commercial prompted me to look it up. I wondered why they were standing in water.
 

SadAnt

New member
Messages
5
@The Big Cowhuna I figured it was overly expensive and though fields usually get all picked at around the same time that leads to a lot of waste. For me, it's more about land and water conservation and vertical farming saves on water and soil and general land use so it's less expensive but the automation of it would be expensive. It can be used in areas closer to the grocery stores, saving on travel. These are more of the things that I am keeping in mind, please tell me what you think needs to be kept in mind! I don't know that much about how farming really works, I'm in somewhat of a farming town but I have only toured three different farms in my life I would like to hear your thoughts. I figured a grain like wheat would be the easiest because it doesn't go bad as easily as and the process of collecting it is already a little bit rougher than other produce. I am interested in what you do fully, the internet has a lot of videos but it's hard to get an actual explanation of the process. You mentioned that it isn't predictable and I agree with you there, I've been struggling with how you would teach a computer when to harvest, I've seen a lot of wiki hows that talk about how to set up the tractor and that the wheat should be dry but if it was climate controlled you wouldn't need to worry about wet crops jamming up your machine. I also figured I might be able to use AI with a lot of pictures of wheat, but that could lead to an issue if it bugs out and then an entire bin gets prematurely cut. Then I thought about setting a time from the plant date but google says 7-8 months and that seems like a large room for error.
 

SadAnt

New member
Messages
5
@Henderson I'm in walking distance of about four different farms so I do pass them quite often, but really I think it's a shame we have starving people and then that got me thinking about food waste and how so much of our crops went to waste this year because of Covid. I think if when we had slave labor crops were cheaper because there was a whole bunch of people doing the work and you didn't really have to pay them, basically just had to keep them going (this sounds horrible, it is, but that is somewhat the truth though simplified) If we could get robots there would be no mistreating of people by getting these free crops and you could either sell them at a price enough to keep your farm going, or give them to people who need to eat for free. We learn at a young age that we need shelter, food, and water. Recently we learned how to basically 3D print houses and I figure if we could have a basic, you still need a job to get what you want so that humans aren't just lazy (I think covid prooves that no one really wants to sit at home all day and do nothing but yeah) But we could get the jobs we want rather than jobs that need to be done but make people miserable (more, in general, I'm sure some people are really happy being farmers) People always tell me things like just you wait someday your kids are going to be saying you had a computer, wow life before holograms sounds awful. But what if it was something closer to you had hunger in America? Or you had homelessness? That's weird. That's the world I want for future generations.
 

Smarty Plants

Farm Hand
Messages
82
I hold your same ideals! We definitely have starving people in the US and homelessness is a huge problem in many cities. This has been exacerbated by the pandemic, but we've always had lots of generational poor people. The problem is that there's money in keeping people down. I manage to make a living while still helping others, but I don't have to follow the same rules and regulations as farmers. I sell at the farmers market and at my store. I also donate lots of vegetables to my local food pantry. It doesn't hurt my retail business. My customers aren't using the food pantry. There's a stigma against community gardens too.

There are some automated systems out there. Maybe you could look into them and tweak them as needed or expand upon the idea. I think we have plenty of food and meat already though. We throw tons of it away. It's not a matter of not having enough. It's about not giving for selfish reasons or regulations/not asking for help/not having the proper supply chain to give or get help/not knowing how to give or get help, and things like that. It's fantastic that you're interested in this. I've thought and thought about solutions too. I recently learned that my neighbors have been without food because they were both furloughed. Why didn't they just ask me for some? It's clear I have an abundance, and I'm always giving fresh produce to neighbors and family during the spring and summer. It's not like they can't hear the chickens.
 

Pinewood Acres

Farm Hand
Messages
97
Since the pandemic hit, I think many farmers are hesitant to hire workers. I would like to see more automation, but I'm not sure how it would work. I bet all that tech would be prohibitively expensive. I've heard of robots that pick fruit, but I'm sure they're too pricey for anyone but the big guys. It would benefit my industry, but I'm not sure if it would affect the American Tree Farm System Certification which is important to many of us.
 

RanchHouse

Farm Hand
Messages
64
I am not sure if full-automation possible because it would require a lot of monetary investment in research and development. A lot of what farmers use now could be obsolete in the next 50 years.
 

SadAnt

New member
Messages
5
I do agree it's a lot of money it would cost around 2,500 dollars to fully automate just one of the sections with wheat in mind, it's less money for other crops but they are more delicate and might require a more human touch. It would be a huge investment but if you could get the money it's very possible for something amazing. It would be less to add more but the initial climate control and energy are expensive, it would become less so if you added more because you would already have the infrastructure.
 

baloyi

Farm Hand
Messages
70
I do agree it's a lot of money it would cost around 2,500 dollars to fully automate just one of the sections with wheat in mind, it's less money for other crops but they are more delicate and might require a more human touch. It would be a huge investment but if you could get the money it's very possible for something amazing. It would be less to add more but the initial climate control and energy are expensive, it would become less so if you added more because you would already have the infrastructure.
In my opinion, the best approach would be to involve all stakeholders speak with one voice. The only way to tackle such a broad-based undertaking would be to start a conversation and have everyone on board. Afterward, everyone can begin working with timelines.
 
 
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