By Jia-Jheng Yeh
Traditional agriculture has been transformed in response to the aging population in rural areas and a shortage of labor. With the help of technology and machinery, smart farming is possible and now taking off to become the mainstream of agricultural development. The following is a brief introduction to technologies in farming including Mini-FarmBot, smart farms, and agricultural drones.
Mini-FarmBot- a Happy Farm come true!
FarmBot is an open-source agricultural machine that enables people to grow groceries at ease and enjoy the harvest. However, FarmBot can be a bit bulky and costly, so Joe Hou from FarmBot Taiwan User Group (FBTUG) decides to transform it. Hou first purchased FarmBot from a fundraising platform and held regular meetings with the group to discuss how to put the machine to good use. Throughout tests and discussion, the group decided to make a smaller version of FarmBot, which is the Mini-FarmBot. Due to the prevalence of open source programming, developers are able to share and exchange the results of their work; meanwhile, they can design and develop different projects more efficiently.
Building a smart farm with information technology
Lock Chen, who used to be an information engineer, brings together technology and agriculture and started Aisne Technology Co., Ltd., aiming at developing farming technologies. Everyone thinks of sensors and high-end technology when it comes to smart farming, but Chen decides to try something different by adopting the traditional way of farming and makes it self-sufficient without the help of sensors. For instance, Chen adopts organic farming systems using earthworms, which help loosen the soil and provide nutrients that groceries need. Also, through the heat exchange carried out in the cooling tower and water tank, the soil temperature can be managed at 22 °C.
Agricultural drones make up for talent shortages in agriculture in Taiwan
Heng-Teng Chen, the head of Earthgen Technology, got his ideas from agricultural products that are closely related to consumers. By using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), Chen’s goal is to reduce the amount of pesticides used, help develop organic agriculture that requires frequent spray of non-toxic pesticides, and address labor shortages in agriculture. At present, Earthgen Technology has developed its agricultural UAV- EG-1. In addition to its small size and high mobility, the amount of pesticides can be reduced by half in mist spraying, if the range and area of spray are accurately calculated.
The examples of Mini-Farmbot, smart farms, and agricultural UAVs show that there is a new face of farming today that is different from traditional agriculture. All developments no longer depend solely on manpower but also the combination of technology and machinery, which enables more innovations and gradually helps farmers face challenges in Taiwan’s agricultural sector.