Augmented reality has been largely evident in gaming and entertainment, with the worldwide success of apps like Pokémon Go and social media platform Snapchat.
But this immersive technology has shown time and again how it can innovate industries beyond entertainment. From aviation and education to tourism and healthcare, augmented reality can potentially become a mainstay across different fields. And one emerging trend is incorporating augmented reality in agriculture.
Yes, the practice that’s been done for thousands of years may be scaled by this latest technology. And this is great news, as there is a need for more efficient and robust food production to keep up with today’s growing population.
“Augmented Farming” is a new practice that incorporates augmented reality to optimize the farming process.
For the novice, farming may seem like a simple activity. Just till the land, sow the seeds, and wait for the harvest, right?
Far from it. Farming entails precise measurements, scheduling, and a scientific approach to yield the most bountiful harvest. And augmented reality can support this greatly.
Say, for instance, a farmer wants to check the field for any infestation. Normally, this would mean that he would need to check every square inch of the land manually. With many studies exploring augmented reality in agriculture, potential applications abound. These include an AR system to track the entire field in one dashboard and detect the presence of pests and insects. Even more advanced systems can be customized to discern which insects are beneficial and which ones are pests.
Aside from data about insects, augmented reality can also make land examination more efficient. By looking into soil properties, farmers can determine which crops would flourish in a particular land.
Combined with weather information, they can go about farming in a more informed way. This will potentially minimize crop losses and ensure healthy harvests.
One example is the farmAR app, developed by computer science engineer Beril Sirmacek.
The cloud-based platform collects satellite data on farmers’ lands. Artificial intelligence and deep learning help with processing and understanding land locations that may need urgent attention. Users can also generate custom content like photos and notes, and have these analyzed in the app.
Simulated Agriculture Training
Another key contribution of augmented reality is in training. The technology enables trainees to familiarize themselves with farm machinery without having to operate it in the actual sense.
With this, farmers can facilitate training their staff without having to accrue costs with handling actual equipment and machinery. In addition to that, any unforeseen accidents will no longer be a risk for the trainees. People can master operating farm equipment through a smartphone or tablet!
Swedish farm machinery brand Väderstad provides one such app. Their augmented reality app allows users to use a smartphone or tablet camera to get a glimpse of the inner workings of their farming equipment.
The app is set to a number of triggers, all marked with a plus sign icon. Once you open the app and point the camera to a trigger, the brochure information pops out. An operator can for example quickly check how the seed meter of the Väderstad Tempo planter works, or how to do a roller change in the metering system. The app is free both on Google Play and the App Store.
The Future of Augmented Reality in Agriculture
With our increasing population, dwindling natural resources, and the effects of climate change making agriculture more challenging, investing in cutting-edge technology could be a viable step for farmers around the world.
Augmented reality is looking to further its place in farming processes, as it continues to provide worthwhile solutions for the industry.