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The future of food includes self-driving tractors, precision agriculture, robots, AI, and IoT

Get a first-hand look at how technology is transforming the way food is being produced for a rapidly growing population.

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Topic: Innovation
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1 of 22 iStock/NolanBerg11

Closing the hunger gap

The world's population is expected to reach over 9 billion by the year 2050. This poses a unique situation for farmers as they attempt to find viable methods for producing enough food to feed everyone. Luckily, technology is growing almost as fast as the human race and can hopefully help prevent a food shortage crisis. The following farms are using IoT, AI, precision farming, and other modern methods to streamline operations and increase crop yield.

This gallery was originally published on TechRepublic.

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2 of 22 Derek Poore

Last-minute equipment checks using an iPad

The John Deere test facility in Bondurant, IA is taking advantage of technologies like GPS, self-driving tractors, advanced planters and sprayers, AI, and IoT to find the best ways to harness land and increase crop production.

John Deere test farm manager Marcus Hall makes last-minute system checks on a new row crop tractor from an iPad. (Caption by Natalie Gagliordi)

Read the full cover story by Natalie Gagliordi: How self-driving tractors, AI, and precision agriculture will save us from the impending food crisis

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3 of 22 Image: Derek Poore

Preparing for a field test

John Deere test farm manager Marcus Hall prepares for a field test in Bondurant, IA. (Caption by Natalie Gagliordi)

Read the full cover story by Natalie Gagliordi: How self-driving tractors, AI, and precision agriculture will save us from the impending food crisis

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4 of 22 Image: Derek Poore

Checking system connectivity

Marcus Hall checks system connectivity on one of John Deere's newest row crop tractors. (Caption by Natalie Gagliordi)

Read the full cover story by Natalie Gagliordi: How self-driving tractors, AI, and precision agriculture will save us from the impending food crisis

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5 of 22 Image: Derek Poore

Testing out new planters and sprayers

John Deere performs field tests on its newest planters and sprayers at its test farm in Bondurant, IA. (Caption by Natalie Gagliordi)

Read the full cover story by Natalie Gagliordi: How self-driving tractors, AI, and precision agriculture will save us from the impending food crisis

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6 of 22 Image: Derek Poore

The John Deere row crop tractor

The backend of John Deere's row crop tractor is prepared for planting. (Caption by Natalie Gagliordi)

Read the full cover story by Natalie Gagliordi: How self-driving tractors, AI, and precision agriculture will save us from the impending food crisis

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7 of 22 Image: Derek Poore

Error alert

Sensors on a John Deere row crop tractor trigger an error alert on an in-cab screen when a part of the system malfunctions. (Caption by Natalie Gagliordi)

Read the full cover story by Natalie Gagliordi: How self-driving tractors, AI, and precision agriculture will save us from the impending food crisis

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8 of 22 Image: Derek Poore

Using GPS to avoid crop overlap

With advanced GPS, a tractor operator can tell which rows have been planted to avoid overlap. (Caption by Natalie Gagliordi)

Read the full cover story by Natalie Gagliordi: How self-driving tractors, AI, and precision agriculture will save us from the impending food crisis

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9 of 22 Image: Derek Poore

John Deere crop sprayer

The massive arms of a John Deere crop sprayer unfold like a transformer. (Caption by Natalie Gagliordi)

Read the full cover story by Natalie Gagliordi: How self-driving tractors, AI, and precision agriculture will save us from the impending food crisis

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10 of 22 Image: Small Robot Company

Meet Harry

Small Robot Company and HandsFree Hectare, two UK-based projects via Harper Adams University, are using methods such as IoT, autonomous robotics, modern photography methods, and AI to take precision agriculture to the next level; through these technologies, the projects hope to provide solutions to the imminent food shortage issue.

This is an early design for Harry, Small Robot Company's precision drilling and planting robot. (Caption by Charles McLellan)

Read the full cover story by Charles McLellan: Smart farming: How IoT, robotics, and AI are tackling one of the biggest problems of the century

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11 of 22 Image: Small Robot Company

Introducing Rachael

Rachael, SRC's prototype robot, is used for testing control systems and gathering AI training data. (Caption by Charles McLellan)

Read the full cover story by Charles McLellan: Smart farming: How IoT, robotics, and AI are tackling one of the biggest problems of the century

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12 of 22 Image: Eden Equip

Haraka

SRC's precision-planting mechanism will be based on the haraka, a simple punch-planting device. (Caption by Charles McLellan)

Read the full cover story by Charles McLellan: Smart farming: How IoT, robotics, and AI are tackling one of the biggest problems of the century

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13 of 22 Image: Agri-Tech East

Agri-Tech East REAP Conference

The latest prototype of Small Robot Company's Harry, a precision drilling and planting robot, at the Agri-Tech East REAP Conference in November 2018. Pictured are: Belinda Clarke (left), Director of Agri-Tech East, and Sam Watson Jones (right), co-founder of Small Robot Company. (Caption by Charles McLellan)

Read the full cover story by Charles McLellan: Smart farming: How IoT, robotics, and AI are tackling one of the biggest problems of the century

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14 of 22 Image: HandsFree Hectare

Look, no hands

The HandsFree Hectare project grows crops using autonomous machinery. No human has set foot in the one-hectare field for two seasons. (Caption by Charles McLellan)

Read the full cover story by Charles McLellan: Smart farming: How IoT, robotics, and AI are tackling one of the biggest problems of the century

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15 of 22 Image: HandsFree Hectare

Tractor meets drill

A small, lightweight seed drill, normally used for planting between rows of vines, was used to sow the barley crop. (Caption by Charles McLellan)

Read the full cover story by Charles McLellan: Smart farming: How IoT, robotics, and AI are tackling one of the biggest problems of the century

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16 of 22 Image: HandsFree Hectare

Autonomous combine

An autonomous combine--again, smaller and lighter than conventional farm machinery--harvesting HFHa's first crop in September 2017. (Caption by Charles McLellan)

Read the full cover story by Charles McLellan: Smart farming: How IoT, robotics, and AI are tackling one of the biggest problems of the century

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17 of 22 Image: Derek Poore/TechRepublic

Farming equipment at Purdue University

The Agronomy Center for Research and Education (ACRE) at Purdue University in West Lafayette, IN along with Land O'Lakes/WinField United are exploring how the implementation of big data, satellite imagery and drones, IoT sensors, and genetic testing can lower agricultural costs and improve the overall farming process.

Farm equipment at the Agronomy Center for Research and Education at Purdue University. (Caption by Teena Maddox)

Read the full cover story by Teena Maddox: Agriculture 4.0: How digital farming is revolutionizing the future of food

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18 of 22 Image: Derek Poore/TechRepublic

Test fields

Test fields at the Agronomy Center for Research and Education at Purdue University. (Caption by Teena Maddox)

Read the full cover story by Teena Maddox: Agriculture 4.0: How digital farming is revolutionizing the future of food

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19 of 22 Image: Derek Poore/TechRepublic

Testing plant growth

Testing variables in plant growth at the Agronomy Center for Research and Education at Purdue University. (Caption by Teena Maddox)

Read the full cover story by Teena Maddox: Agriculture 4.0: How digital farming is revolutionizing the future of food

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20 of 22 Image: Derek Poore/TechRepublic

Touring the facility

Jim Beaty (right), superintendent of the Purdue Agronomy Center, doing a tour of his facility. (Caption by Teena Maddox)

Read the full cover story by Teena Maddox: Agriculture 4.0: How digital farming is revolutionizing the future of food

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21 of 22 Image: Derek Poore/TechRepublic

Testing the equipment

Testing high-tech farm equipment at the Agronomy Center for Research and Education at Purdue University. (Caption by Teena Maddox)

Read the full cover story by Teena Maddox: Agriculture 4.0: How digital farming is revolutionizing the future of food

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22 of 22 Image: Derek Poore/TechRepublic

Farming technology

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