[Smart Agriculture] The Era of Smart Agriculture- Solving Labor Shortage

Taiwan lies in both tropical and subtropical zones with a dynamic topography. Despite its unique agricultural advantage, residents adopt intensive farming due to the long and narrow lands that are densely-populated. It is difficult to compete with other countries due to the high cost of production. In addition, climate change causes natural disasters, including typhoons and cold fronts that result in huge losses in agriculture. The aging population in rural areas has also led to a huge shortage of agricultural workers.

To improve the production and competitiveness of Taiwan’s agriculture, Taiwan can make good use of its highly-advanced technology in traditional agriculture to make up for the shortage of labor. Technology can be used to facilitate the process of agricultural transition and solve current problems.

Farming Technology- Agriculture 4.0

In 2016, the Council of Agriculture (COA) under the Executive Yuan launched the “Smart Agriculture 4.0 Program.” It features unmanned operations and intelligent machines that perform “smart production” and “digital service.” Through sensors, smart devices, Internet of Things (IoT), and big data analysis, production can be automated, and knowledge can be digitized to integrate agricultural resources and information during production.

Through IoT control models that apply physiological sensors on agricultural machinery, facilities, soil, crops, etc., data can be collected through biosensing, environmental sensing and image recognition. With the help of wireless communication, collected information, such as temperature, humidity, luminosity, carbon dioxide, soil moisture, pests, etc., will be transmitted to the cloud for analysis.

In Taiwan, there is a group of people called “FBTUG (FarmBot Taiwan User Group),” who are dedicated to building eco-friendly agriculture. FBTUG brings together talents from various fields to start projects in smart agriculture, such as developing harvesting robots and Mini-FarmBot.

Taiwan’s agriculture is currently transitioning. With new technology and smart agriculture, a new field in traditional agriculture is introduced, and the impact of labor shortage can be mitigated accordingly. When eco-friendly machinery becomes more popular, science and technology will take the lead in renovating agriculture and creating a promising future for Taiwan’s agriculture 4.0.