We are on the cusp of the marriage of tech and ag that will revolutionize weed control and change the rules for modern farming. Ag-engineers are refining imagery identification systems that will soon be able to differentiate grassy weeds from grassy crops (the proverbial holy grail of imagery analysis). When coupled with smart sensors a fraction of the amount of chemical applied today to a field could be used to get the same level of weed control. Spray drones are already being deployed for agricultural applications and their load limitations are offset by their ability to make precise spot applications. Other technologies in development include precision flamers, lasers, abraders, or cultivators
which can replace or augment herbicides. Before you walk away thinking this is a bunch of fun speculation, consider John Deere spending over $300 million
in 2017 to acquire a robotics company specializing in “see and spray” technology. Also, consider BASF’s recent investments in start-ups that focus on solar-powered robotic weeders
and precision spraying technologies.
The result of this increased farm automation will be a more precise, data-driven farming operation. These technologies will not replace all existing practices, but they will allow for a reallocation of time and resources. Technology has become an ever-increasing part of modern life and modern business. There is no indication that dryland farming will be any different and every indication we have a lot to benefit from its adoption. Bring on the robots!