Growing is a dirty business. Technology conjures images of clean rooms with technicians wearing space suits. The two can actually merge on the farm!
The challenge of staffing the farm with a harvest crew is ongoing. Tech come to the rescue with optimization software that can pinpoint the optimal time to harvest any particular crop; one pass with the most efficient yield. We are even seeing robots equipped with high definition cameras and special algorithms to drive mechanical harvest machines.
Driverless tractors equipped with GPS location software are able to plant quickly and efficiently. Drones that monitor crop needs can provide data which calls out irrigation, spraying or fertilizing. The resurgence of in-field packing using automated processes has reduced the handling and potential for post-harvest damage.
And let’s not overlook the food safety benefits of linking employees (or machines) to sensors in the field like a Fitbit links to your computer at home. The electronic tracing of activities along with app software streamline the food safety related paperwork.
Retail based systems are able to do demand forecasting, thereby connecting regional growers with local customers in real time. The advent of this HortTech should help growers all over the world meet the demand for safe, healthy, sustainable food for our burgeoning population.