Autonomous, GPS Guided, Data Driven Farm Equipment Is the Next Step In Industrial Agriculture And The Latest Example of Incipient Human Obsolescence
Tractor above: Case IH Autonomous Concept Vehicle from Case IH Agriculture
While the concept of a giant GPS controlled RC tractor plowing the field and harvesting crops is not exactly mind blowing these days, autonomous farm equipment is also equipped with all kinds of other scientific bells and whistles to interact and report on soil and water conditions and interact with weather predictions. Infrared sensors can sample soybean and corn plants’ health, while other devices measure weed distribution and soil moisture levels. The data is collected and analyzed providing farmers in their rustic high tech offices with tools to make long term and day to day decisions regarding planting, harvesting and pesticide application.
These new data driven farming tools are a key component in precision agriculture, which in turn is enabled by GMO based monoculture technology, agricultural interests and farm consolidation. With pesticide application a key component in precision agriculture, it should be no surprise that Monsanto and DuPont are key players in this paradigm shift down on the farm.
For example, data collected by John Deere tractors (which controls most of the American tractor market) is linked up to a digital agricultural weather information outfit called Climate Corp. Their algorithms provide guidance for farm managers based on their weather prediction platform combined with data from individual operations. Monsanto bough Climate Corp in 2015 as part of their objective of becoming an integrating hub for planters, not to mention achieving global domination of your food supply.
As in virtually every other aspect of commerce, there are any number of advantages to technology driven farming. However, these methods are only effective on large scale operations, which in turn benefit from minimization of labor costs. The need for seasonal unskilled workers and farm hands will continue to decrease with the passing of the family farm, thus continuing to remove employment opportunities for rural America.
And farmers will be (are already becoming) farm managers. And Old MacDonald’s goose is cooked.
Humans are so intelligent, they are capable of making themselves obsolete. Or, more likely, making “low use segments” of the population obsolete.