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ROBOTIC PRECISION AGRICULTURE USING GANTRIES

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000244731D
Publication Date: 2016-Jan-06

Publishing Venue

The IP.com Prior Art Database

Related People

Chuck Byers: AUTHOR [+2]

Abstract

A highly integrated robotic agriculture system for field crops is presented. It operates something like a center pivot irrigation system, but replaces traditional self-propelled or tractor-drawn tilling, planting, cultivating and harvesting implements with modular implements moving under the system's gantry rail. Using this system, petroleum-based fuels can be eliminated, and labor content associated with field crops can be greatly reduced. Yields, efficiency, and production costs can be greatly improved, even while using organic farming practices.

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ROBOTIC PRECISION AGRICULTURE USING GANTRIES

AUTHORS:

 Chuck Byers Rodolfo Milito

CISCO SYSTEMS, INC.

ABSTRACT

    A highly integrated robotic agriculture system for field crops is presented. It operates something like a center pivot irrigation system, but replaces traditional self- propelled or tractor-drawn tilling, planting, cultivating and harvesting implements with modular implements moving under the system's gantry rail. Using this system, petroleum-based fuels can be eliminated, and labor content associated with field crops can be greatly reduced. Yields, efficiency, and production costs can be greatly improved, even while using organic farming practices.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

     Precision agriculture using Internet of Everything (IoE) techniques hold great promise for improving the productivity and efficiency of farming worldwide. In particular, the use of technologies such as remote sensing, GPS guidance, fine granularity yield monitoring, smart irrigation, precision application of seed, fertilizer and pesticides have greatly improved field crop yields.

    However challenges remain in the creation of a truly smart field. Often, granularity of sensing and control is on kilometer distance scales, while the variability in field conditions is on meter distance scales. Higher spatial resolution in planting, growing and harvesting parameters will produce higher yields, higher crop quality, and optimize the use of energy, water, agrochemicals, and labor.

    Another challenge of modern agriculture is energy use. According to USDA, over 30% of production costs for many crops is energy, topped by fuel, fertilizers, and electricity. The price volatility of petroleum based fuels is a significant concern for farmers, as a price spike in diesel fuel can severely impact the profitability of their

Copyright 2016 Cisco Systems, Inc.

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operations. Fully electric tractors have been considered, but because of their high power and energy demands and long time between charges, the battery required for a practical tractor with capabilities similar to those common on large farms would be approximately 25 times the capacity of a Tesla Model S (prohibitive in cost, weight, and physical size).

    Labor costs are also a significant concern. Many hours are spent driving tractors in multiple passes over the same field, performing different soil preparation, planting, cultivation, chemical application, harvesting, and post-harvest operations. Modern corn methods often make five passes over a field; and alfalfa can require 15 passes or more per growing season. Some robotic techniques, such as driver assists and even self-driving tractors have recently been demonstrated to partially address this problem.

    There is a pressure on many farmers to use greener, more organic methods that reduce the dependency on GMOs, chemical fertilizers, herbicides and insecticides. Anything that can be done to reduce the consumption of these expensive, and potentially environm...