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More Efficiency with Less Labor: The Coming Age of Autonomous Equipment


The agriculture industry has been steadily adopting more and more digital advancements that have been made available since the coming of the new millennium. The implementation of technological breakthroughs appears to be coming at a more rapid pace as connectivity improvements and software innovations increasingly develop. One particular area of technological advancement that is projected to grow significantly in the coming years is the development and demand for autonomous farming equipment. Autonomous farm equipment can include tractors, harvesters, thinners, sprayers, as well as any other equipment that does not require a human operator to be onboard the machine to operate it. Using autonomous equipment can assist growers in a multitude of areas. For California farmers in particular, the necessity of maximizing the efficiency of an orchard in every possible area is highlighted by the consistently increasing number of regulations combined with the steadily declining amount of available labor. “We talk...

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Drone Adoption Grows as Technology Rapidly Evolves


Before drone technology became available farmers would have to procure images of their operations from satellite services or through the use of manned aircraft. In a relatively short period of time the cost, quality and sophistication of aerial image capture changed significantly. What began as somewhat of a novelty has grown into a full-fledged industry that continues to become more advanced every year. While drone technology initially developed outside of the agricultural sector, it did not take long to realize that many of the features being utilized in other industries could be applied on farming operations. An increasing number of growers have been purchasing their own drones or employing drone services for a number of different applications on farms. As the drones themselves continue to evolve, allowing for further applications and better functionality, so too does the software side of things. A common issue for growers in recent years is...

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Land, Water, Air: What’s Happening in Irrigation Tech


All farmers use technology in their orchards.This includes technology as it applies to—and continues to shape—irrigation. Agriculture has seen some incredible changes since the ancient peoples diverted flood waters into their fields in 6000 B.C., and the shifts in technology allow today’s farmers to know far more about what is happening in the soil, the trees, and with the water. When drip irrigation was invented in 1960, the irrigation and farming industries were transformed. In the 1970s, neutron probes appeared on the market and created yet another step for irrigation and farming. With the need to know more about what was happening in the dirt, soil moisture sensors and telemetry in the field became tech-of-the-day in the 1990’s and early 2000’s, where the devices were hardwired to your barn through a telephone landline. It wasn’t without its problems, and early adopters of this tech were more harmed by it than...

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Use of Technology in Regulatory Functions

By Terry Brase | Director, Farm of the Future at West Hills Community College

As more and more technological devices and practices are developed, growers will continue to get  and more sales pitches. A walk through any conference exhibit hall is a small look at the huge market that is ag technology. It is a very competitive market and these companies and developers are not only fighting for the investor’s dollar, they are competing for the growers sales dollars. Developers and their marketers must provide justification to the grower for their products. If the market is to support the product, it must have a specific benefit to the grower. Benefits of Technology The obvious benefit is the economic value. The grower and the investor, want to know that they will get a return on their investment. The investor wants a return along with interest and the grower wants to increase income and/or reduce costs within a two to three years span of time in...

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Solar Systems in Agriculture

The Future of Solar in Agriculture

By: Kathy Coatney, Editor

There are changes coming to solar in next few years. One of the big changes is the investment tax credit.

Investment Tax Credit

The Investment Tax Credit is a 30 percent credit at the federal level that is available in all 50 states for any type of renewable energy. In California, this is the primary incentive available, according to Chad Cummings, director of sales and marketing for JKB Energy. What this means is, if it’s a million dollar project the grower receives an immediate tax discount of $300,000, which is different than a write off, Cummings explained. (more…)

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