The Agriculture IoT Market is expected to grow from USD 12.7 billion in 2019 to USD 20.9 billion by 2024, at a CAGR of 10.4% from 2019 to 2024. Key factors driving the growth of this market are increasing adoption of Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology by farmers and growers, focus on livestock monitoring and disease detection to improve farming efficiency, and rising demand for agricultural production owing to increasing population, according to the report by MarketsandMarkets. Increasing adoption of new technologies Hardware is expected to account for the largest share of the agriculture IoT market during the forecast period. The increasing adoption of new technologies and advanced devices for smart agriculture (global positioning system (GPS) receivers, guidance and steering devices, and variable rate technology (VRT) tools) is expected to drive the growth of the agriculture IoT market for hardware during the forecast period. Demand for drones/unmanned aerial vehicles The agriculture IoT precision farming market for automation and control systems is expected to grow at a higher CAGR from 2019 to 2024. The increasing demand for drones/unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) is a major reason behind the high growth of the market for automation and control systems. New approach to farming practices Also, the increasing adoption of automation and control devices such as GPS/GNSS, irrigation controllers, and guidance and steering has created a new approach to farming practices and is expected to drive the market for automation and control systems. According to the MarketsandMarkets researchers, India, China, and Japan hold a major share of the agriculture IoT market.
The first field robots entered the fields over 10 years ago now. Despite this, you rarely see them used in farming practice, if at all. If nothing changes, they will soon be overtaken by autonomous tractors with smart tools. The technology is fascinating: a robot that removes volunteer potatoes and weeds from a plot of beet or onions without any human intervention. Lightweight robots require no labour, exert extremely low pressure on the soil, and are able to work accurately 24 hours a day. And while building a high-tech solution onto a 45-metre spray boom is prohibitively expensive, it is perhaps feasible on a robot with a 2-metre spray boom. Start-ups and robot firms are seeing opportunities in the global billion-euro crop protection industry. Development of field robots is a lengthy process In practice, development is a lengthy process and there are some failures. The list of robotics projects that never or have not yet made it into practice is long. As soon as the innovation grants are used up, the free market proves extremely tough. For a start-up without equity, there is nothing in sight but the financial chasm. In the meantime, crop farmers are very sceptical in view of the coming and going of robot manufacturers; after all, if you invest, you want to be sure that the supplier will still exist in five years time. This has also created a negative perception of businesses that do have a sound concept. Amazone Bonirob field robot The extreme difficulty of developing a field robot is evident in a company such as Amazone. Ten years ago, the manufacturer presented its Bonirob field robot. Amazone has since moved the management of the project to a start-up operating under the renowned Bosch brand. Even so, the robot is still not available on the market. This is characteristic of a market in which robot projects fail to reach their predicted point of market launch, time and again. This makes the market very difficult to predict. The fact that field robots never get off the ground contrasts with the success enjoyed with robots in other sectors. Consider, for example, the milking robot or the packing robot used by egg farmers, but also robotic mowers on lawns, welding robots in industry, and robots in logistics. Robots broke out of the realm of science fiction many years ago. However, a field robot is trickier to develop because it works outdoors under conditions that vary each time, and that creates complexity. Technically, a robot is never allowed to work outdoors on freely accessible plots without human supervision. A robot is a means to an end Another factor standing in the way of success is that robot manufacturers offer no complete solutions; they often regard their machines as tool carriers. The prevailing belief among some manufacturers is that, after the sale, a crop farmer will attach a machine to the robot himself, and it should then work. A rather theoretical approach, as it is not that simple in practice. A robot may be a means, but the farmer wants a complete solution Crop farmers look for a solution to a specific cultivation-related problem, rather than a robot that will replace the tractor. A robot may be a means, but the farmer wants a complete solution. The most commonly requested solution is for volunteer crop removal and mechanical weeding, including from contemporary crop farmers, who want to reduce the use of crop protection products in onions and avoid spray damage to the crop, for example. Little collaboration in the market So far, robot and tool manufacturers have been working in isolation. There has been little collaboration in the market, and it is partly for this reason that robot builders do not always offer the market-ready, complete solution that crop farmers are after. Things are beginning to change in that respect, however. Where the manufacturers fail to act, local parties take the initiative. Mechanisation firms have knowledge of electronics, tools, and the local market. Artificial intelligence becoming a game-changer Some start-ups and manufacturers are now opting for an approach based on a specific application. Hoe manufacturer Carré will be launching its own hoeing robot onto the market in 2020, for example. It is built for the purpose of hoeing, with the advantage of a familiar name accompanying the product. Start-ups such as the Swiss firm Ecorobotix are developing robots with a single purpose, specifically identifying and dabbing the leaves of weeds and volunteer crops, and companies such as BASF have invested millions in them. The Ecorobotix weighs just 130 kilos and has a 2-metre working width. This means a single robot could cover 10 hectares per week. Field robot no longer a self-propelled cart According to reports, the robot would definitely become available on the market this spring. “It will now be 2020 or 2021,” an employee now tells us over the phone. This is typical of the market. Even so, these types of development signal a sea change. The field robot is now no longer a self-propelled cart, but rather a machine that is able to do something. The crucial factor is that hyper-intelligent software is all-dominating, and this high-tech software is self-learning. According to market experts, this is the piece of the puzzle that has been absent from robot technology for the last 10 years. The robot or the tool itself is able to learn new things using images captured by cameras, data, and algorithms. Deep learning This is also referred to as deep learning, and is similar to the technology also found in self driving cars. It enables the robot to learn to assess unexpected situations posed by the environment and to learn on the basis of data. It learns to identify a weed or a volunteer potato plant between crops, and to kill it, of course. Deep learning is a form of artificial intelligence, or AI for short. Tractor manufacturers play tactically For as long as the market remains inaccessible, the tractor manufacturers will keep to themselves, and work on roboticising their tractors in piecemeal fashion. Only Fendt once presented a small field robot, but the product’s status is unclear. Perhaps it serves as a warning to field robot manufacturers? Tractor manufacturers are playing a power game: remember that, with RTK-GPS ex-works, the ability to automatically turn on the headland, and technology that enables the tool to act on the tractor, state-of-the-art tractors are already not far from autonomous. Full-liner companies have the capital, the dealer network, and soon also compact (electric) tractors that they will be able to roboticise The Dutch company Precision Makers already demonstrated in the past that it is indeed possible to completely roboticise a tractor; the technology exists. Full-liner companies have the capital, the dealer network, and soon also compact (electric) tractors that they will be able to roboticise. No universal field robot will be able to compete with them. John Deere bought Blue River Technology Bear in mind that they not only have the tools in-house, they also have both the platform and the opportunities to invest in deep learning software. The starting shot has been fired: last year, John Deere bought Blue River Technology, a start-up specialising in weed identification using AI in combination with a robot. The robot is now nowhere to be seen, but the website now features photos of the smart spraying technology behind a John Deere tractor, and therein lies the key factor. To cultivate more effectively, it is not strictly robots that we need, but rather smart tools. Whether they will be attached behind an autonomous tractor or an autonomous robot in the future is of no particular interest. It is all about the tool of the future. Robot manufacturers that fail to work on the basis of that practice and that realisation merely form part of fleeting hype, not a long-term trend towards greater autonomy. “Tractor manufacturers will soon seize on it” Tijmen Bakker obtained his PhD on field robots ten years ago, and has developed and built one himself. He takes stock of past and future developments. Expectations for field robots were high around 2002. “I interviewed many people back then for my doctoral research. When it came to weed removal, many people felt that field robots would become commonplace within 10 years.” During that time, he also developed a working robot himself (see photo). He expected the last few technical problems to be resolvable within a reasonable period of time, but it proved more difficult. After completing his doctoral research, Bakker started his own business focusing on robotics for road construction. Developments appear to have been fairly stagnant during the last 10 years. Bakker qualifies that observation: “Not in practice. Field robots are never used on a large scale, but the technology has seen a great deal of development, particularly in relation to deep learning. I expect to see rapid progress over the next few years.” This fairly new form of artificial intelligence could perhaps remedy the earlier issues. Bakker points out two major problems: one being safety, and the other the fact that there is no driver’s insight regarding assessment of the output produced by the tool. The tractor driver is aware of many things simultaneously that are difficult to define for a robot.” The nature of the market isn’t helping. “Robot manufacturers are small businesses. They do not have the means to alter the playing field. But if tractor manufacturers know that field robots will become a success, and the underlying technology is fully developed, they will seize on it immediately. What’s more, if tools soon become intelligent and the safety issue is resolved thanks to deep learning, it will make little difference whether the tools are attached behind a robot platform or an autonomous tractor. However, in specific markets, such as weed identification and hoeing technology, I think that specialised manufacturers could enjoy success.”
Dot Intelligence将为Dot自主农业机器人开发AI/ML技术。Dot Intelligence是Dot Technology Corp在加拿大阿尔伯塔省埃德蒙顿的子公司，Dot Technology Corp是Dot自动农场机器人制造商。Dot Intelligence公司成立的目的是发展技术，提高Dot机器人系统在自主农业中的应用。该子公司将专注于计算机视觉、机器学习优化和智能导航。建立一个专注于向Dot添加AI/ML功能的团队的目的是最终让农民在田间实现100%的自主操作。它支持字段之间的各种传输选项，例如“跟随我”功能或排驾。
[相关专利] APPARATUS FOR DETERMINING NITRATE LEVELS, AND METHOD FOR MEASURING ION CONCENTRATION WITH A STANDARD DEVIATION CORRECTION 进入全文
Embodiments of the inventive concept include a portable ion concentration apparatus including a controller, a storage section to store one or more data samples, an amplifier circuit, and a chemical field effect transistor (CHEMFET). The CHEMFET and the amplifier circuit can indicate a quantity of nitrate levels in a sample media or a reference media. The controller can process the indication of the quantity of nitrate levels, and generate the one or more data samples based at least on the indication of the quantity of nitrate levels. The portable ion concentration apparatus can include an in-field analysis apparatus, an in-field measurement apparatus, or an in-soil monitoring apparatus. A measurement logic section can determine an ion concentration based on a sensitivity slope M or a polynomial fit. Also disclosed is a method for measuring ion concentration with a standard deviation correction.