How prevalent is autonomous vehicle adoption in agriculture?
The Center of Excellence for Agriculture in Walla Walla, Wash. is taking a conservative view regarding unmanned aircraft, but said that autonomous vehicles are gaining major traction in Washington’s farming industry.
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Lindsey Williams, interim director, said that drones and aerial systems in Washington agricultural saw a big push for adoption about two years ago. But she noted that as smaller farms were researching the technology, they felt either “priced or regulated out” of adoption. She said that there are larger companies that support farming who are helping with adoption, but it is really being driven first by autonomous vehicles that can offer a faster return on investment. Williams sees the fastest growth for autonomous systems in:
- Vineyard management
- Weeding control (instead of spraying or using herbicides)
- Seedling starts
“Autonomous or land-based vehicles are useful in agriculture, but we are holding for broader adoption on aerial vehicles in this application. The cost and regulations are too-high today.”
Lindsey Williams, interim director, Center of Excellence for Agriculture