The Small Farm of the Future Will Rely on Automation and Robotics

cageymaru

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A multi-million dollar investment into a farm in Pennsylvania is the the test bed for future technological breakthroughs in small, family farming according to the NY Times. 150 cows at the 175 acre Rivendale Farms wear FitBit-like trackers that monitor their caloric intake, movement, and chewing patterns. Three robotic machines milk the cows which in turn allows one person to do the job of five employees. The cows are milked 4 times a day, but are locked out of the milking area where special vanilla treats are available. A sensor and an automated scale determines when they are ready to give milk, and acts as a key to the milking area.

Once a cow enters the milking area, the cow's teats and udders are washed, laser scanned, automatically milked with suction cups, sprayed with iodine and steam cleaned before the cow ventures off to another area. The cows are free to do as they want on the farm, but these dairy cows average 15% more milk than similar cows of the same breed. The fields at the farm are scanned by scouting robots designed by researchers at Carnegie Mellon. The scouts can find weeds in the fields and accurately detect diseases on crops using computer vision and machine learning. The findings are reported to the property owner via a smartphone app. The next step is to create a robot that can dig, cut, and remove the diseased plants and weeds.

The Rivendale cows are milked four times a day on average, when they feel ready, compared with the traditional twice-a-day regimen when humans manage the milking. And its Jersey cows produce 15 percent more milk than the average for the breed, with a higher protein and butterfat content, said Christine Grady, general manager of Rivendale. "They eat when they want, lie down when they want and feed when they want," Ms. Grady said. "And a happier cow produces more milk and better milk."
 

Etherton

Will Bang for Poof
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The jobs future is in robotics. It's inevitable, Mr. Anderson.
 

lcpiper

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A multi-million dollar investment into a farm in Pennsylvania is the the test bed for future technological breakthroughs in small, family farming according to the NY Times. 150 cows at the 175 acre Rivendale Farms wear FitBit-like trackers that monitor their caloric intake, movement, and chewing patterns. Three robotic machines milk the cows which in turn allows one person to do the job of five employees. The cows are milked 4 times a day, but are locked out of the milking area where special vanilla treats are available. A sensor and an automated scale determines when they are ready to give milk, and acts as a key to the milking area.

Once a cow enters the milking area, the cow's teats and udders are washed, laser scanned, automatically milked with suction cups, sprayed with iodine and steam cleaned before the cow ventures off to another area. The cows are free to do as they want on the farm, but these dairy cows average 15% more milk than similar cows of the same breed. The fields at the farm are scanned by scouting robots designed by researchers at Carnegie Mellon. The scouts can find weeds in the fields and accurately detect diseases on crops using computer vision and machine learning. The findings are reported to the property owner via a smartphone app. The next step is to create a robot that can dig, cut, and remove the diseased plants and weeds.

The Rivendale cows are milked four times a day on average, when they feel ready, compared with the traditional twice-a-day regimen when humans manage the milking. And its Jersey cows produce 15 percent more milk than the average for the breed, with a higher protein and butterfat content, said Christine Grady, general manager of Rivendale. "They eat when they want, lie down when they want and feed when they want," Ms. Grady said. "And a happier cow produces more milk and better milk."

I'm sure this will probably go somewhere. But I can't help wondering just what the market is for this, because what most people don't get is that the small farm type of people usually live that life because it's the life they want. Milking the cows etc are chores that you give younguns so they learn what work and responsibility are all about. If Mommy and Daddy wanted riches thy woulda become doctors and lawyers.

I'm just saying, some will eat this up, others maybe not so much.
 

travisty

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The future is no cows or chickens. Milk and meat will be grown in labs. Farms will be vertical.

 
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Lakados

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I'm sure this will probably go somewhere. But I can't help wondering just what the market is for this, because what most people don't get is that the small farm type of people usually live that life because it's the life they want. Milking the cows etc are chores that you give younguns so they learn what work and responsibility are all about. If Mommy and Daddy wanted riches thy woulda become doctors and lawyers.

I'm just saying, some will eat this up, others maybe not so much.
I live in a farm area, and they are in a constant state of manpower shortages. They can’t keep workers they pay’s not bad but the job is hard most burn out after a few paycheques. Nobody can keep their youngins home all day they need to go to school so you have them help with weekend chores. Toy farms are a few acres at most, at 175 that is a working farm that requires remarkably skilled labour to get work done and remain profitable.
Farms around here are already replacing scare crows with drones. Those drones not only scare off birds but use HD cameras to inspect for sick crops. They also have armies of little wheeled cars that take soil samples, read moisture levels and look from below to find signs of undesired insects. Hell one of them is getting ready for next year and they brought in laser leveling equipment to completely flatten their fields to prevent water pooling and subsequently reduce water consumption, the device that does this will also plant as it goes and it too is completely automated.
 
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Galvin

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Its awesome living during the transition from man power to robots. Just seeing it unfold each year
 

lcpiper

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Its awesome living during the transition from man power to robots. Just seeing it unfold each year
My grandmother lived as a teenager before the age of the automobile, in those twilight years of the horseless carriage, the train, but while the horse itself was still a thing of necessity for many. She lived through two world wars, the Korean and Vietnam Wars, and the 1st Gulf War, saw cars, planes, the moon landings. Computers became a thing to include the PC in the home. Radio, Television, the Internet.

I always seem to marvel at someone so blessed as to see such transition in their time on this earth.

And then I remember that in the midst of all this wondrous work ....... someone also invented this;


51lW4r8qhgL._SY355_.jpg
 
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sfsuphysics

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Luckily someone still has to fix it. :) Now when the robots start designing, fixing, and upgrading themselves automatically; we might have a tiny problem.....
And luckily for companies like John Deere they'll make sure that someone is a qualified official John Deere tech associate and ONLY a qualified official John Deere tech associate.
 

Inglix_the_Mad

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Robo-dairy farming is udderly amazing.
My uncle and cousin (both electricians) both install these type of systems, flying all over the country. In fact they've been installing them (and similar systems) for about the last 4 years. Quite interesting to look at from a production monitoring standpoint, even if they are dirt simple from a network perspective.

The future farm will be very connected and the farmer will be able to see a lot of data to collate production and costs.
 

maxz01

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Hopefully we won't need farm animals much longer, they have suffered so much. Then again wild animals also suffer terribly. So yeah, need some neural nano-implants on wild animals to remove their pain. Or just replace living things with robots entirely, no more pain.
 
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And luckily for companies like John Deere they'll make sure that someone is a qualified official John Deere tech associate and ONLY a qualified official John Deere tech associate.
Lol, I hear Ukrainian firmware is great for getting past the DRM that prevents your equipment from running.
 

Ski

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Ah... automation. Let's stop this tension of saving and protecting outmoded and outdated jobs, we should be moving to automate everything as fast as possible. I find it offense if I go to a restaurant these days and I see the most amazing person, the most amazing culmination of the history of the universe, the nervous system. A human being. The most complicated end peak of entropy.... and they're waiting on you. The most complicated machine to ever exist, the brain, just sitting there... and he is there waiting on you like a slave. To me, it's an offensive thing to even occur at this point in time in the 21st century. Nobody should be reduced to soul sucking, trivial jobs that doesn't challenge their critical thinking but but wastes their lives and potential instead.

And you know this poor schmuck like 78% of his fellow American are struggling to survive from paycheck to paycheck. Let's assume if he's somehow able to retire, he'll be deep into his 60's and possibly 70's, but by the time that happens he soon dies after thanks to obesity, heart related issues, diabetes, cancer, or even suicide since the rates are higher than any other age group. And even during the brief period of luxury he doesn't know what to do with himself because he's been so conditioned and wired to be a cog in a machine, that the concept of doing other things has become a foreign concept to him. Which is not uncommon to see a 70 year old's assisting at the Home Depot or bagging groceries even though the internet is just sitting there giving them a million different ways to spark their creativity.

They've been psychologically destroyed and bankrupted so intensely, their creativity just ruined by the process of market slavery. In a perfect society, we would be accelerating automation to 80% of the jobs so we could be doing the things we should be doing in a society: Keep learning. Volunteer. Take care of each other and ourselves. Play. And keep creating. But instead we define our self worth through this meaningless and redundant jobs that only exacerbate our physical and psychological health. Because when 85% of Americans indicate they hate their jobs, you know something is wrong with this country. And I can almost guarantee you nobody likes milking a cow for eight hours a day. Not unless you're into bestiality.

At the end of the day, we're entering one of two phases of society: Elysium or Gene Roddenberry's Star Trek. But I don't have to tell you gentleman where our current trajectory is heading, and to me that is scary.
 
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DocNo

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Ah... automation. Let's stop this tension of saving and protecting outmoded and outdated jobs, we should be moving to automate everything as fast as possible...
Free those brains from having to do any work at all and if you think social media is a cesspool now?!?

I always thought one of the explanations for the Fermi Paradox - that advanced civilizations eventually off themselves - was completely bonkers. And yet each year as the amount of actual work people have to do in order to survive goes down and free time goes up and how much more stupid everyone acts online... I kind of understand it now.
 

janis2018

n00b
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Jan 17, 2018
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That huge farm normal is 10 cows.
Getting food for them whit old machinery is the hardest.
 

GNUse_the_force

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The future is no cows or chickens. Milk and meat will be grown in labs. Farms will be vertical.

I was about to post this, Thanks for saving me the time. The push towards a lower methane / carbon foot print to avoid (inevitable ?) global environmental catastrophe will firmly propel lab grown meat into the main stream. Not to mention any ethical issues society may have surrounding killing hundred of millions of animals a year.. sometimes in ways considered inhumane depending on the culture.
 

Bounty

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That farm has four 200k milking machines, so that they can have 1 guy working instead of 5 if I'm reading this correct. I wonder what the lifespan of those machines are, and running maintenance costs. I think the average diary worker makes 30k a year. So maybe 8 year ROI assuming 5k a year maintenance? Ehh, with benefits etc. probably more like 5 years to break even. Probably means we're reaching a point where that industry is going to change dramatically in the next 10 years.
 

Rahh

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Giving the machines what they need to realize they can farm us when the revolution happens.
 

Draax

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It starts with robots running the farms and ends with robots farming humans.
 
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