Technology humanises the day-to-day in the field

Adriano Naspolini, Director of Research & Development in Hexagon Agriculture division

Woman in the field with a tablet

06 July 2023

It may sound counterintuitive: technology usually opposes the idea of humanisation. When we think of technological progress, what comes to mind is a series of pictures very distant from what we know as human. However, the thought here takes a different path: humanising as a synonym not only of acquitting a human condition (as a flesh and blood individual), but of becoming more pleasant, of easing, softening. 

In agriculture, technology has been playing a significant role in the humanisation of work, improving conditions in several ways. We come from a manual labor tradition, and we cannot say it was so long ago that hoes were replaced by machines. The introduction of advanced agricultural equipment reduced the load of physical work of farmers. Activities that once required intensive physical effort, such as plowing the soil, planting, harvesting and transporting heavy loads are now carried out more efficiently using tractors, harvesters and other agricultural equipment. The benefits of a more modern agriculture, however, range from new tools in the literal sense of the word, to the use of solutions developed to improve the intelligence of operations. 

Technology allowed, for example, automating several repetitive agricultural tasks. Automated irrigation systems can automatically monitor and adjust the amount of water supplied to plants, eliminating the need for manual irrigation. Likewise, agricultural robots can perform tasks such as harvesting and weed control, reducing the need for repetitive manual labor. This frees up farmers’ time to focus on more strategic and rewarding activities.

Other solutions have also brought substantial advances in terms of work safety. Safety sensors and protective devices are uses in machines to prevent accidents. Moreover, drones and satellites can be sed to map dangerous areas, such as rough terrain, or portions prone to landslides, allowing farmers to avoid these risky areas. Technology also allows remote monitoring of hazardous conditions, such as levels of toxic chemicals, allowing farmers to take the appropriate precautions to ensure their safety.
Furthermore, the development of technology also allowed taking more access to information into rural areas. Increased connectivity and the use of mobile equipment provided more specialised knowledge to farmers. They can access information of good agricultural practices, farming techniques, equipment maintenance and solutions for agricultural problems with ease. Moreover, online platforms allow farmers to connect with one another and share experiences and learn from each another. That strengthens the agricultural community and provides mutual support.

Taking it one step further, the use of AI (Artificial Intelligence) has already been directly impacting the results reached in terms of both efficiency and productivity. Based on data recorded on the activities of agricultural equipment, AI is capable of providing support in diagnostics and take action based on predictability. Technology processes this data and projects scenarios, anticipating undesirable situations and making real-time recommendations, such as warnings for the ideal moment for equipment maintenance and choosing the most efficient routes for carrying out operations.

All of these solutions, in addition to reducing the burden of the labor on the worker, also help boost the country’s productivity. For the last 25 years, there has been a remarkable advance in Brazilian agricultural productivity compared to the global average. According to the Applied Economics Research Institute (Ipea), the Total Factor Productivity Rate (PTF) in Brazilian agriculture increased approximately 3.2% annually, surpassing the global average of 1.7%. This study also highlighted that Brazil’s agriculture productivity increased an astonishing 400% since 1975, and underscored the key role technology has played in this progress.

Whether by quantifiable results in percentages, or the by the increase in workers’ well-being, technology has proven to be an indispensable ally for the future of agricultural operations. Saving manual labor, automating operations and helping make the best decisions are just a few of the benefits offered by solutions developed every day by teams dedicated to seeing the Brazilian agribusiness reach new heights.