In the next 35 years, we’ll have to produce
more food than the all of the world’s production combined over the last 2000 years. So what
will the farms of the future look like? Well, they’re unlikely to look like this
just yet! But many of these sci-fi-looking elements are already on the way.
Take automation. These concept robots can autonomously scout, sense and treat invasive
pests and pathogens with micro amounts of herbicide or pesticide, vastly reducing the
costs and environmental impacts associated with these chemicals. This is known as ‘precision
farming’ and see here how the lasers on this tractor can detect the presence of weeds
to only treat affected areas. This is the ‘ladybird’ rover, a working
solar-powered prototype that conducts autonomous farm surveillance, mapping and weed detection.
Drones are also tipped to play a big role in farms of the future, like this Octocopter
at Rothamsted Research. This BBSRC-funded demonstrator technology could help the farmers
of the future measure growth and biomass, and detect stresses to crops from pathogens
or lack of nutrients or water. Other researchers are already using them for surveillance, sowing
seeds or even to find or herd farm animals as you can see here.