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A review of the state of the art in agricultural automation. Part I: Sensing technologies for optimization of machine operation and farm inputs

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  2018 ASABE Annual International Meeting  1801589.(doi:10.13031/aim.201801589)
Authors:   Craig P. Baillie, J. Alex Thomasson, Craig R. Lobsey, Cheryl L. McCarthy, Diogenes L. Antille
Keywords:   Automation and process monitoring, Optical guidance systems, Variable rate technology, Vision-based systems.

Abstract. There have been recent developments in (1) sensing and perception, (2) variable rate technologies, and (3) machine optimization in agriculture. Such automated systems have potential for use in agricultural production and consist of multiple functional components that enable them to perform pre-determined tasks. Developments include optical guidance systems, vision-based systems, automation and process monitoring, and the precision application of fertilizer, herbicide, and seeding. Optical guidance systems use either laser or machine vision to enable better positioning of the tractor relative to the crop. Vision-based systems increase situational awareness of the tractor operator and thereby improve safety. Sensors for process monitoring include grain yield and protein sensors which make georeferenced measurements to provide maps of yield and protein variability in the crop. These data can be used with a number of precision agriculture (PA) techniques. New variable rate technologies use section control of functional implements to reduce seeding or herbicide overlap. A communication Standard (ISO 11783) has been developed through collaboration between tractors and implement manufacturers. Engineering performance and optimization of tractors has taken various elements of tractor operation that are typically performed by a human operator and turned them toward automation, resulting in improved fuel efficiency and reduced wear on the vehicles. The essential functions of the new developments in automation and their commercial availability are discussed and reviewed, from which recommendations for future research were developed.

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