Labor costs, climate change and growing food demand are ushering in an era of machine modernization across the nation’s agricultural landscape.
It all contributes to what’s known as precision agriculture, where farmers use less to grow more or adopt new gadgets to increase crop production while cutting down on waste. The field is increasing in popularity. The market for advanced farming tools was estimated to be about $7 billion in 2020, and it’s projected to reach $12.8 billion over the next four years, according to the research firm MarketsandMarkets.
Part of the projected rise stems from farms wanting greater efficiency in the face of labor issues. The number of people working as farmers, ranchers and other agricultural professionals is expected to drop 6 percent by 2029, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The industry has already faced decades of job declines in the United States, even as agricultural production rises to feed a growing population.
It’s true that AI-powered farm machines may one day be able to perform most tasks that require people today. But for the time being, humans have a leg up in some areas, such as handling delicate objects. Robots tend to have dexterity problems, which can cause them to hold objects like fruit and vegetables too aggressively.