by Han-Ru Xie
Traditional farming usually comes with heavy chores that are labor intensive, which can easily cause occupational injuries and because of this, young people have little willingness to return to their hometowns to work on a farm. With the advancement of smart agriculture comes with new technologies that are farmer-friendly. The following are two inventions that greatly reduce the burden on farmers in their work.
Farm wearables that save energy and reduce workplace injuries
According to statistics from the Council of Agriculture, 93% of occupational injuries among farmers are bone or muscle injuries caused by excessive physical activities. The most commonly injured body part is the wrist, followed by the shoulder, due to repeated lifting of the hand for a long time.
To solve this problem, Associate Professor Wei-Chih Lin from National Sun Yat-sen University (NSYSU) develops farming wearable devices to reduce labor under the subsidy by the Council of Agriculture. The device is designed to support farmers’ arms and movements during work, so that the strength put in harvesting and heavy lifting can be reduced.
With an Electromyography (EMG) device measuring the strength saved when farmers use the farm wearable, researchers found that loss of muscle strength can be reduced by 66% for female farmers when they prune tomatoes and 48% for male farmers when they spray pesticides in a pomelo farm. It can be seen that the outcome is quite astonishing.
Better irrigation & fertilization done – IoT system for automatic irrigation and drainage
In conventional farming in Taiwan, checking the water and crop in the farm land is an essential task. In 2020, Lishan in Charge, the winning team at the 3rd MediaTek Smart Hometown- Digital Social Innovation Competition, developed an application named “SOLOMO Platform for Sustainable Rice Cultivation and Land Management”. With this application, farmers can keep an eye on their lands simply using their mobile phones, monitoring crop conditions at any time.
The platform name “SOLOMO” stands for SO (social community), LO (local), and MO (action). The development team works together with local organizations and irrigation associations to collect ecological data in Guandu Plain over the past ten years. With the help of AI, big data analysis, and cross-comparison of the results, the team can have the most accurate readings for the amount of fertilization, use of water, based on which farmers can estimate the harvest time and production amount to avoid waste of resources.
Many new technologies can share the heavy burden in doing agricultural work for farmers. It is hoped that in the future, with the joint efforts of the government and the private sector, smart agriculture can be more advanced to boost farmers’ income and improve their living quality.