The uptake of automation
by Chris Jackson, Export Manager UK TAG
We are now more than halfway through another year and in the UK. Harvest will very soon be upon us and we are all hoping that yields will be high, however nothing in farming is assured as weather has a very major influence and here it is very changeable indeed. We had a hard winter that lasted through to mid-April but thankfully no late frosts.
After that, very little rainfall meant very light cuts of grass for silage making and to boost cereal yields. Where irrigation for potatoes and vegetables has been available with the warm growing weather, crops should be good.
The maize crops as I travel through the UK are looking very patchy, which is not a good sign for our livestock producers.
Summer in the UK is when we have through the country a chance to show off our expertise ideas and technologies through a series of farming shows and demonstrations.
These events give our farming people a chance to come together to socialise discuss and compare notes and ideas in industrial and modern jargon these events could be described as team bonding and training exercise as these events have been taking place for more than 150 years clearly demonstrating how advanced in thinking our farming communities are.
In the latest editions of these events the most modern and innovative ideas are all on display, alongside reminders of our past with antique machinery giving attendees a very valuable history lesson showing just how far we have advanced in the last 100 years.
Alongside technology that has only been improved for instance the cutter bars on harvesting machines where the finger bar configuration is still used in the most sophisticated computer-controlled harvesters shown alongside 100-year-old reapers and thrashing machines.
Not only has the farming industry seen unprecedented changes and upgrading of machinery and equipment, our milling industry has seen similar improvements to inventions developed more than 100 years ago.
Within my lifetime we have witnessed this massive change and uptake in technology making life less arduous for the farmers, whilst enabling more marginal land to be brought into production. This is all good for food production and much needed as our world population grows and more land is being used for development.
The world is developing at an unprecedented, alarming and exciting rate dependent on your outlook on life with the dawning of the digital age. We are now seen as taken for granted computer technology that was only 40 years ago ideas of purest science fiction. With robotic technology not applying to take drudgery and routine actions out of our lives but now able to mimic the human brain and diagnose solutions to impending problems before they occur.
For the farming industry the impact has far reaching consequences as labour on farms becomes an increasing problem in its scarcity, people no longer want to work in dirty and smelly conditions of farms, mills, slaughter and food packing plants. Robotics can perform a lot of the tasks as long as the primary product is offered in a uniform shape and size a challenge for our producers and breeders but with genetic advances being made using vigorous selection criteria only available now with the aid of fast comport technology these criteria are being met.
In the food chain industry, the more that we can mechanise production the risks of contamination are reduces as hygiene and disinfectant practices can be easily built in to systems which is all for the good of the end consumers.
In all of our farm milling and extrusion industries the uptake of automation means that human error is taken out of the production system within built safeguards against any failure in any part of the production.
I am writing these notes whilst sitting in a hot dry England demonstrating again the one part of our production that computes cannot control the weather which we all rely totally on.