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Acquisitions Driving Autonomous Farming Movement Forward

Acquisitions are quickly changing the face of the so-called “smart farming” landscape.

The latest example of that evolution comes via Fieldin, the world’s largest smart farm operations management company, which recently acquired agricultural autonomous driving company Midnight Robotics, reported ZD Net (Nov. 19).

“Smart farming” uses Internet of Things (IoT) sensors and artificial intelligence (AI) to manage farm operations with what many view as improved precision. And, Fiedin’s recent acquisition creates a sensor-based farming platform with autonomous driving technologies. The concept has already been utilized at large California farms.

“Many people think that autonomous tractors are some magic solution, but at the end of the day, they’re just machinery – your autonomous farm can only be as good as your farm management data, and that’s why this acquisition is driving the autonomous farming revolution forward,” said Boaz Bachar, CEO and Co-Founder of Fieldin, in a press release.

In other news:

Farm income: The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City recently reported farm income remained strong in the third quarter, largely due to elevated commodity prices, but demand for livestock loans grew to nearly double the inflation rate.

“Weakness in the cattle industry persisted … as low cattle prices continued to limit profit margins for producers,” the authors wrote, with the average size of loans reaching an all-time high.

Net farm income was measured at $113 billion, the highest since 2013 and the eighth highest since 1960 (adjusted for inflation).

Farmland prices: The debt-to-income ratio among farmers is expected to remain stable, leading to a continuing run-up in value for farmland. The USDA farm income estimate put the debt ratio at 4-to-1, reflecting “the improved financial health of the farm sector compared to the highly leveraged farm economy that existed in the late 1970s,” Mike Walsten, contributing editor to LandOwner, told AgWeb.

Heavy machinery: Carbon Robotics has created a 10,000-pound robot that uses AI and laser technology to identify and eliminate weeds for farmers. The Autonomous LaserWeeder is equipped with 20 high-resolution cameras, and high-powered lasers that identify and kill weeds at the meristem, reported Successful Farming (Nov. 18).

More power for farmers: Archer Daniels Midland has invested in Farmers Business Network (FBN), a digital start-up created to give farmers more power in agricultural markets long dominated by large companies. FBN’s platform provides its 33,000 members new distribution outlets for their crops and alternative options to purchase seeds and chemicals, reported The Financial Times (Nov. 19).

Carbon capture: House Agriculture Committee Chairman David Scott said following a recent hearing that voluntary carbon markets could offer a new revenue stream for farmers and ranchers. Texas Farm Bureau spokesman Gary Joiner said, however, any legislation on the issue should avoid any kind of carbon tax or cap. “Carbon credits should be fully researched by USDA and other federal agencies to help standardize the credit market accounting and to ensure it’s a scientifically sound and practical solution,” Joiner recently wrote.

Pumpkin patch: The USDA recently reported that Texas led the nation in pumpkin production in 2020, with a crop valued at $25.9 million, followed by Pennsylvania, Illinois and California. Illinois retained the crown, however, for pumpkins produced for pie filling and other processed foods.