The recent GOFAR Agricultural Conference in Salinas, California is not your typical farm show.
The Global Organization for Agricultural Robotics (GOFAR) was first organized in 2016 as a show to promote and develop the agricultural robotics sector at the international level.
Now each year, dozens of robotics companies come out to show their latest creations to over 3,000 farmers, ag experts, and forward thinkers on farm production.
Agricultural robots today are available for most types of common farm chores, from milking cows to seeding, watering, and weeding plants.
Ag-Bee offers drones that can apply pesticides and fertilizer over large areas.
Farm(X) can turn existing tractors into autonomous vehicles, making them capable of driverless cultivation of crops even in areas without GPS access.
Between the pandemic and the restrictions on migrant workers entering the US, farmers over the last several years have not been able to find enough help to work their farms.
Many cite this issue as the top issue facing farming currently, which makes events like GOFAR extremely popular.
The market for agricultural robots is estimated to have reached $13 billion in 2023 and is expected to continue to grow by at least 20% per year.
But it isn’t just replacement workers that the technology offers, in some cases, it significantly improves to work the farmers do.
AI is being used to spot trends, and recognize pests, and blights long before their human counterparts can.
Verdant Robotics has built rovers for Mars, and autonomous cars, and is now focused squarely on farming, offering a robotics system that can examine each plant as a tractor drives over it, delivering an exact dose of what it most needs to grow.
This level of precision is opening the eyes of many farmers who see this as a way to work smarter, not harder.