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Dalhousie University’s new robot hopes to ease stress of the agriculture industry

Click to play video: 'Dalhousie University’s new robot created to ease stress in the agriculture industry' Dalhousie University’s new robot created to ease stress in the agriculture industry
WATCH: Farming can be a stressful job. But as Ashley Field report, a new agriculture robot being developed at Dalhousie University is hoping to help ease some of that stress. – Nov 12, 2019

A new agriculture robot developed at Dalhousie University is hoping to ease the stress of the farming industry.

The fully-automated creation maps a farmer’s field, helping to check for disease and overall crop health.

It was designed in a lab at Dalhousie’s Agriculture Campus in Truro, N.S.

“When we look at the agriculture problems, we really wanted to find some kind of fast, real-time, image processing device,” said Young Chang, an assistant professor at Dalhousie University and the Mitacs project’s lead researcher.

READ MORE: Saskatchewan farmer concerned about agriculture labour shortage

He says the robot will immediately tell farmers what areas of the field need what.

“Instantly they will get the results, and they will quickly decide whether they need to spray fungicide or not,” said Chang.

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Although it is just a prototype, the mapping device, once it is fully developed, will be small enough to fit in a drone.

Chang says a drone mapping service currently exists, but not in real-time. That means farmers lose precious time waiting nearly a week for results.

“You know, sometimes a fungus will spread in three to four days [before covering the] whole field,” said Sabiha Shahid Antora, a master’s student at Dalhousie University who has contributed to the project.
Click to play video: 'Southern Alberta agriculture event showcases the latest in farming technology' Southern Alberta agriculture event showcases the latest in farming technology
Southern Alberta agriculture event showcases the latest in farming technology – Aug 18, 2019

The 27-year-old comes from a village in Bangladesh, a country whose economy greatly depends on agriculture.

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“I know the sufferings of the farmers, and they do a hard job in the harvest season,” Antora said.

“We make agri-robots that will help reduce the stress… that will help [farmers] manage the farm, [they] will instead focus on increasing the lands that will, in turn, provide us more food.”

READ MORE: The farm of the future is staffed by robots, RBC report says

While agriculture automation can be a time-saver, it can also be pretty pricy.

The project is being developed with cost-effective devices and image-processing systems, creating a practical tool for small and medium-sized farms.

“It will be available for every sized farm, for average people, and they can easily afford it, and also they can use it as it is very simple to understand,” said Chang.

If all goes according to plan, Chang hopes to see the technology being used by farmers in two to three years.

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