Big farming machinery and Roundup: “the end is nigh!”

Would you believe me if I told you that instead of driving around a tractor with a spray rig on it, you could have a little robot dashing around each of your paddocks and microwaving little weeds and pests, all while you sleep or take a holiday? Well my friends, you’d better believe it, because that’s exactly what the University of Southern Queensland’s (USQ) National Centre for Engineering in Agriculture (NCEA) is developing.

From left - Swarm Technologies Andrew Bate, RPC secretary Bernard Milford, USQ Associate Professor Craig Baillie and RPC president Brendan Egan.

From left – Swarm Technologies Andrew Bate, RPC secretary Bernard Milford, USQ Associate Professor Craig Baillie and RPC president Brendan Egan.

I’m a bit slow to write about this, but two weeks ago, the Rural Press Club met at the annual Toowoomba Ag Show to talk about future farming technologies. This topic is something I have a particular interest in because I think the future of farming will be heavily influenced by robotic technology such as drones and robots. And my opinion aligns with that of NCEA’s director and farmer from the South East Andrew Bate and his colleague from USQ, Associate Professor Craig Bailie. But at least Mr Bate and Mr Bailie have an entire research institute based in Toowoomba to support that claim.

Mr Bate is also the founder of Swarm Farm Technologies which is a pretty cool organisation that focuses on future farming without pesticides.

What’s that? I hear you say… A future without harsh pesticides and herbicides?! Well ladies and gentlemen of the future, I used to think that genetic modification was the only way to a sustainable future in farming. I broadcasted it on radio, and wrote about it here. But, after learning more about these robotic technologies, I really think they’re a great idea.

“The two main problems with current methods are soil compaction and herbicide resistance. I founded Swarm Technologies because I believe we cannot keep going down the same path,” Mr Bate said.

He then goes on to talk about some of the other things that robots can do for farming. Apparently they can “increase yields, increase efficiency and decrease the environmental impacts of farming.”

Pretty cool stuff. And to think that those massive 20+ metre ploughs were the biggest and best way to do things. My farming friends, I am excited to tell you that the future of farming isn’t as big as you think, in fact, this is the best example of where big things come in small packages. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for these little beauties.  

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