Now that we have had GNSS-driven precision in the fields for nearly 20 years, with widespread and growing acceptance by farm vehicle manufacturers and farmers, what lies ahead for precision agriculture?
The unobstructed views of the sky, which eased the task of ensuring robust signal availability for use with commodity crops such as corn and wheat, is narrowing as growers turn their attention to high-value orchard fruit and wine grapes. Moreover, the scarcity of skilled workers in some sectors is undercutting traditional reliance on manual labor for such tasks as pruning, chemical applications, and harvesting.
These forces have encouraged farmers to look toward increasing automation of equipment to ensure continued efficiencies on the farm. To help us sort out these issues, we turned to Francisco Rovira-Más, director of the Agricultural Robotics Laboratory (ARL) at Polytechnic University of Valencia. Dr. Rovira-Más obtained a Ph.D. in agricultural engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in the United States.
Among the ARL’s activities is participation in the VineRobot project, an EU-funded effort to integrate machine vision, infrared, GNSS, and other technologies to optimize vineyard management, decision-making, and improve grape quality.