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Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnanehttps://www.thatsfarming.com/
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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Is AI the future of farming? New report predicts the future of ag machinery

A major new report has pulled together some of the biggest names in agriculture to predict the future of farm machinery and explore the rise of robots in farming life, writes farming journalist, Catherina Cunnane.

The Future of Agricultural Machinery report draws on the opinions of a range of leading industry experts, who explore the challenges facing farmers, what the future trends will be and, crucially, the outcomes for the agricultural industry.

Shining the spotlight on everything from the impact of monster tractors and the labour shortage, through to autonomous machines, artificial intelligence, drones, data and alternative fuels, the comprehensive report asks what agribusinesses must do to help farmers succeed in the years to come.

Produced by agricultural PR and marketing agency, Red Stag Media, the report features:

  • Experts from major manufacturers like John Deere and New Holland;
  • Top academics from Harper Adams and The Lincoln Institute of Agricultural Technology;
  • Leading professionals from Oxbury Bank and Whitley Stimpson;
  • A host of engineers, innovators and key stakeholders.

Key insights include:

  • A call for greater collaboration among manufacturers;
  • An appeal to government to do more to help people explore alternative fuels;
  • Demands for greater clarity and incentives for farmers to invest in the latest equipment.

An overriding theme is the relentless march of robots into our fields, with all talking about the arrival of autonomous agricultural machinery and the data they are generating to help advance decision-making.

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Autonomous tractor or robot

Chris Wiltshire, UK and Ireland marketing manager at John Deere, outlined in the report:

“We all know that farming is changing, and businesses are having to adapt to a new policy environment.”

“With so much technology out there to choose from, selecting the right innovations that will deliver the results they need will be key when making investment decisions.”

“An autonomous tractor or a robot may be able to achieve a goal – but farmers will only invest if it is going to benefit their business, so knowing what is out there for them will be really important.”

Kit Franklin, principal investigator of the Hands-Free Farm at Harper Adams University, says:

“When autonomous tractors first came out, it all seemed a bit sci-fi to farmers and, while they liked the idea, they did not believe it would happen in their lifetime.”

“Having now seen them, 95% of farmers are positive about autonomous machines and are asking, ‘when can I have one?’ There is a real appetite out there. Seeing is believing, and we have done it.”

Critically, the contributors say manufacturers must do more to communicate with farmers, supporting them to adopt “fresh thinking” and understand how the next generation of machines will deliver greater profits and yields from their land.

Shaping the future of farming

Managing director of Red Stag Media, Nick Glaves, explained that the report had been borne out of the conversations the firm has been having at shows and with people across the industry.

“The innovations in agricultural machinery are coming thick and fast, and we wanted to understand how that will shape the future of farming.”

“Our expert contributors have provided some fascinating insights, and it paints a picture of an intelligent, data-driven and precision agricultural future that will continue to deliver the food security need.”

“However, the message is clear that we must all do more to communicate these opportunities, challenges and innovations to farmers.”

“To succeed, agribusinesses must find new ways to communicate and become part of the farmer’s inner circle, acting as a trusted adviser and delivering the information they need to make profitable decisions about the future of their farm,” Glaves concluded.

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