Robots and autonomous combine harvesters are the main drivers behind a growing precision harvesting market.
The precision harvesting market is estimated to be worth USD 11.5 billion in 2019 and is projected to reach USD 17.5 billion by 2023, at a CAGR of 10.9% during 2018–2023, according to a report by MarketsandMarkets.
Increasing farm mechanisation in developing countries
The major drivers for the precision harvesting market are increasing farm mechanisation in developing countries in Asia Pacific and Africa, increasing adoption of harvesting robots and autonomous combine harvesters, and increasing labour cost owing to shortage of skilled workers, say the researchers.
According to Ashish Mishra, Associate Research Manager, Electronics and Semiconductor, MarketsandMarkets “Harvesting equipment manufacturers are emphasising on improving land and labour productivity to enhance profitability from every acre of a farm.”
Visualisation of data during harvesting stage
Agricultural machinery manufacturers are therefore focusing on harvest volumes that have a direct impact on the farmer/grower income, says Mishra. “These manufacturers are engaged in R&D of technologies that could provide real-time intelligence on harvest flow rates and visualisation of data during harvesting stage.”
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Many start-ups are engaged in developing robotic machines to harvest fruits such as apples, strawberries, and grapes in the North America region. Agrobot robots for instance are harvesting strawberries in California on a large scale. - Photo: Agrobot
Robotics to ease farm-labor crunch
According to Rahul Kumar, Senior Research Analyst, Electronics and Semiconductor, MarketsandMarkets “Agriculture robotics is expected to ease the farm labor-crunch. Many start-ups are engaged in developing robotic machines to harvest fruits such as apples, strawberries, and grapes in the North America region. Robotic harvesting vehicles are being tested in Florida and California for picking strawberries and executing labour-intensive tasks that normally require dozens of farm workers.”
Greenhouse and high-value crops cultivation
The adoption of harvesting robots is highest in greenhouse and high-value crops cultivation. “Greenhouses have stable conditions that are friendlier to robotics machinery. They also operate outside of standard growing seasons, leading to a higher labor requirement, and thus a greater potential for using robotic harvesters instead,” states the report.
The Americas held the largest share of the precision harvesting market in 2018 and are expected to retain a similar position during the forecast period. “The U.S. and Canada are early adopters of precision harvesting technologies, which is the major reason for the large market share of this region. Farmers or growers in this region are increasingly adopting advanced harvesting systems and equipment such as steering and guidance systems, sensors, display devices, and harvesting management software,” concludes the report.