With the emergence of cutting-edge technology and integration of Agriculture 4.0, the agriculture industry has witnessed major transformations, such as maximized crop yields with less input of labor and costs.
Augmented reality (AR) technology is one such technology that is revolutionizing the way of farming by providing real-time information and analysis of the fields, crops, and soil conditions.
AR technology has achieved significant success in streamlining farming processes such as seed selection, crop monitoring, increasing productivity, and reducing the waste generated. This article will explore how AR technology in farming is maximizing agriculture’s potential and its impact on food production.
AR Technology to Reduce Labor Requirements
Traditional farming has been a strenuous job that required significant manual labor, which was time-consuming, costly, and physically demanding.
However, the integration of advanced technologies such as augmented reality in farming has led to new developments, such as vertical farms and indoor farming, and has significantly reduced dependence on extensive manual labor.
Through AR farming, several time-consuming tasks, such as plant health monitoring and soil analysis, could be completed efficiently and quickly.
Farmers can use AR technology to save time. With AR technology, they can quickly identify issues and take required actions to resolve them.
Sensors used in AR farming help in providing automated key input or information instantly as per set requirements. Feed and input amounts can be calculated in an instant without utilizing a central processing unit.
For instance, Plant Vision, a U.S.-based company, developed a technology that combines artificial intelligence (AI) and AR to create an integrated system for optimizing plant growth. This technology can be a valuable tool for farmers and horticulturists.
AR technology uses AI algorithms to monitor and analyze data from various sources, such as plant sensors, weather forecasts, and soil moisture levels, to make informed decisions about watering, fertilization, and other aspects of plant care.
Plant vision also conserves resources such as water and fertilizer by precise application for optimal growth, resulting in healthier, more productive plants and reducing waste.
With the integration of multispectral augmentation technology, which allows the human eye to see in spectrums such as infrared and ultraviolet, farmers can easily detect plant diseases and prevent crop damage.
With the integration of augmented reality in farming, critical information can be transmitted even in harsh and challenging conditions, such as low light and remote locations, which may be inaccessible to humans. This helps in reducing the burden of physical activities, manual checking, and frequent inspections of the fields on humans.
Smart Farming with AR-Enabled Crop Maintenance
Crop maintenance or crop scouting is considered one of the essential farming processes as it can help in detecting pests and controlling adverse plant conditions.
Farmers can employ AR to view real-time data about their crops, including growth rate, yield potential, and disease susceptibility, which can assist them efficiently in pest management and crop harvesting.
The integration of a global positioning system (GPS) with AR can help in detecting precise locations from sensors.
With the direct transmission of data to AR smart glasses and AR software applications, pests, soil degradation, or humidity levels can be found instantly without manual support, which also helps in quicker decision-making based on the data.
For this purpose, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) equipped with various sensors and cameras can be used to gather data about crops, fields, and soil.
The information collected from UAVs can include weed species, soil and crop moisture levels, plant development stages, plant health, and much more.
AR used in conjunction with UAVs enhances the data visualization and analysis process by transforming data into three-dimensional models.
With this AR technology, farmers and agronomists can analyze the data by directly interacting with it. For example, AR can be used to display plant health information as visual overlays on the plants or to highlight field areas with high moisture levels or weed infestations.
Streamlined Field and Livestock Management with AR Technology
AR technology enables farmers to make informed decisions, monitor progress and resolve problems by allowing them to overlay digital information onto the real world.
AR in farming allows farmers easy and automated management of fields and livestock.
Geo-referenced data and other related information about the crop and field can be accessed through field monitoring, which includes yield monitoring, field check, and field mapping.
With AR and GPS-enabled technology, farmers can create yield maps/visual representations of crop yields across a field, which can be used as a valuable tool for maximizing yields with data-driven decisions.
By mapping out crop yields, farmers can gain a deeper understanding of their crops' spatial variability and identify areas where yields are lower or higher.
Moreover, yield maps can help farmers to identify soil type, topography, and many other factors that may contribute to variability in crop yields.
This can provide valuable insights into the underlying causes of low yields and allow farmers to develop targeted strategies such as fertilization, irrigation, and planting to address these issues.
By connecting controlling devices to the AR application, farmers and operators can remotely monitor and control the movements and activities of autonomous tractors and machinery.
AR applications provide a visual interface for users to interact with the machinery and equipment using advanced cameras, sensors, and other technologies such as GPS to create a real-time, interactive 3D view of the environment.
Through this AR technology, farmers and operators can see the exact location of the machinery and equipment, as well as its surroundings, even if they are not physically present on the farm.
For instance, Augmenta, a Europe-based company, has developed the world's first camera-based visual reinforcement audiometry system based on AR and precision farming.
The hardware system facilitates the collection of crop and equipment data and is capable of mapping field topography.
It is designed for attachment to tractors and can be seamlessly integrated with a display device through communication technologies, referred to as augmented farming by the company.
Livestock monitoring and management involves overseeing domesticated animals for the purpose of obtaining products such as eggs, meat, milk, and wool. The process encompasses the entire lifecycle of the animals, from birth to harvest.
AR-enabled technologies are providing an autonomous infrastructure for the management of larger herds that have significantly reduced dependence on manual labor.
Nedap N.V., a company from the Netherlands, has created an AR app to enhance livestock management services, being the first to do so for the dairy industry.
The app retrieves relevant cow data through AR-enabled glasses such as Microsoft HoloLens, reducing inspection time and allowing farmers to take quick action.
The solution is offered along with Nedap's CowControl system, which tracks cow behavior and real-time location.
Upskilling Farmers with Simulated Training
Farmers can be trained using simulation techniques in virtual environments offered by AR technology and can efficiently adapt to the challenges of modern agriculture and keep the farming industry fresh and innovative.
This method provides farmers with hands-on experience in using new technologies and techniques without the risks or costs associated with real-life implementation.
The simulation provides a safe and controlled environment where farmers can experiment and make mistakes, allowing them to upskill and gain confidence in their abilities.
Visartech Inc., a company based in the U.S., has implemented its AR-based farm management app in California and Peru, which includes video tutorials and AR simulations for training farmers.
Integrating augmented reality into the agriculture industry is helping to revolutionize farming, making it more precise, efficient, and sustainable.
As Industry 4.0 continues to evolve, AR will likely play an increasingly important role in agriculture. The future of agriculture is looking bright, and the integration of AR promises to be a game-changer for the industry.
According to BIS Research, the global augmented reality in agriculture market was valued at $0.84 million in 2021 and is projected to reach $4.89 million by 2027, growing at a CAGR of 34.49% during the forecast period 2022-2027.
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The use of AR can make the data more accessible and understandable, allowing for quicker and more informed decision-making in the field.
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