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Report: the Unmanned Future of Farming

by Marco van der Hoeven

The agricultural robots market is projected to grow from USD 13.5 Billion in 2023 to USD 40.1 Billion by 2028, at a CAGR of 24.3%, according to a new report by ResearchAndMarkets.com. Increased awareness about digital agriculture is driving the widespread usage of agriculture robots as farmers recognize the transformative potential of advanced technologies in modernizing and optimizing farming practices.

Digital agriculture encompasses the integration of cutting-edge technologies such as robotics, artificial intelligence, data analytics, and the Internet of Things (IoT) into traditional farming methods, unlocking new possibilities for increased efficiency, sustainability, and productivity.

One of the key drivers of agriculture robot adoption is the growing understanding of the benefits they offer. With increased awareness, farmers are recognizing that these robots can automate labor-intensive tasks, reduce operational costs, and enhance overall farm management. By leveraging advanced sensors and AI algorithms, agriculture robots can collect real-time data on soil health, crop conditions, and weather patterns, enabling data-driven decision-making and precision farming practices.

Agricultural robots automate slow, repetitive, and dull tasks for farmers, allowing them to focus more on improving overall production yields. They include unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones, milking robots, automated harvesting systems, driverless tractors, and other robots, for instance, unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) robots, used in nurseries or greenhouses, sorting and packing robots, and weed control robots.

Drones are expected to lead the agricultural robots market; however, with the high rate of commercialization of driverless tractors, they are expected to overtake drones within the next three to four years. The driverless tractors segment is expected to have the maximum growth potential among agricultural robot types.

The agricultural robots market in Europe exhibits a high degree of professionalism and technological adoption. However, the lack of large farms and slightly higher input costs create a marginal disadvantage compared to the US market. The agricultural robots market in Europe is projected to witness substantial growth in the near future as this region is currently in the early stage of the adoption of autonomous harvesting systems and driverless tractors.

Prominent companies include DJI (China), PrecisionHawk (US), Trimble Inc. (US), Parrot Drones (France), AeroVironment, Inc. (US), Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. (Japan), AgEagle Aerial Systems, Inc. (US), DroneDeploy (US), 3DR (US), and Sentera Inc. (US) among others.

The Outdoor segment is expected to account for the largest share in 2023.

Agriculture robots are set to revolutionize outdoor farming applications, offering numerous benefits that will transform the way farming is conducted. These advanced machines, equipped with cutting-edge technologies, are poised to address critical challenges faced by farmers and enhance productivity, sustainability, and efficiency in outdoor farming.

Agriculture robots can perform tasks with unmatched precision, thanks to their advanced sensors, GPS technology, and artificial intelligence capabilities. They can accurately plant seeds, apply fertilizers, and dispense pesticides, reducing waste and optimizing resource usage. Precision farming ensures that crops receive the right amount of inputs precisely where they are needed, leading to increased yields and cost savings.

The Farm produce sub-segment is projected to dominate the market share in the end-user segment during the forecast period.

Agricultural robots will revolutionize farm produce by enhancing efficiency and productivity. These robots can autonomously perform various tasks, such as planting, weeding, harvesting, and monitoring crops. With precise data collection and analysis, they optimize resource usage and reduce waste.

Additionally, robots can operate 24/7, ensuring timely actions, even in adverse conditions. Their consistent performance improves crop quality and yield. By minimizing manual labor, farmers save time and costs, enhancing their profitability. Moreover, agricultural robots promote sustainable practices by using fewer chemicals and reducing environmental impact. Overall, these technological advancements empower farmers to meet rising demands and secure a more food-secure and sustainable future.

Driverless tractors are expected to be utilized on a large scale – despite their high price – as labor costs keep rising. Various AGVs are expected to be utilized for farming field crops for planting, spraying, and weeding. Since field crops require extensive farmlands, UAVs are also expected to be utilized on a large scale in field crops compared with other types of agricultural produce.

Hence, field crops are expected to have the highest share of the market and the highest growth rate during the forecast period.

Europe is to grow significantly during the forecast period.

According to the European Committee of Farm Machinery Manufacturer’s Associations (CEMA), the European agricultural machinery market is currently growing, which is expected to fuel the growth of the agricultural robots market as well. The major factors contributing to the agricultural robots market’s growth in Europe include improved productivity through mechanization, an optimized supply chain, and increasing labor cost owing to the shortage of skilled labor. Uncertainty regarding government support, low farm income, and import restrictions from Russia are the major restraints.

The European agricultural machinery industry is one of the most developed in the world and is supported by the presence of global players, such as John Deere (US), Small Robot Company (UK), Earth Rover (UK), Saga Robotics (Norway), CNH Industrial (The Netherlands), and AGCO Corporation (US).

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