Farming With Robots

Technology is always changing in agriculture and the next phase can help alleviate labor shortages, give farmers volumes of information, and increase food production.

Engineers and students at Kansas State University are developing prototypes of robots that will serve specific purposes in crop production.

Dan Flippo is an assistant professor of biological and agricultural engineering at K-State. He says one of the robots they’re testing is about the size of a microwave oven and will do the field scouting for you both day and night.

"It actually goes through the field, in between the crops, underneath the canopy. It looks for things like pest stress, disease, we can measure density and things, measure the stalk size," says Flippo. "The idea there is that you have these guys out scouting fields so the farmers who can’t walk, you know, 6,000 acres can have this information coming in and they can catch things sooner."

He says the machines will be able to pinpoint where the pest pressure is and spray chemicals only where it’s needed instead of over the entire field.

Another robot project is about the size of a wheelchair. It will do crop work in places that haven’t been planted before.

"Plant and harvest wheat on high Flint hills where tractors can’t go so, we’re trying to increase the arable land for the world, and this is one way we can see us doing it," he says. "Where we can’t get conventional equipment in there, we can go in with automation."

Flippo says they’re also working on drone technology to improve the artificial intelligence capabilities.