COVID-19 IMPACT SURVEY MAY 2020
The global market for Autonomous Farm Equipment is projected to reach US$128.8 billion by 2025, driven by growing government and private sector investments in intelligent agriculture as the future of sustainable farming. Major factors playing key roles in catalyzing revolutionary changes in agricultural technologies include growing population and food demand; escalating shortages in arable land due to soil pollution and use of agricultural lands for industrialization and urbanization; need to increase yields per acre; shortage of labor; growing carbon footprint of agricultural activities; and rising urgency in addressing sustainability issues such as unacceptable rise in pesticide residues, soil degradation, water wastages, herbicide resistance in plants, and preventable losses in planting, growing, and harvesting. All of these factors catalyze the concerns surrounding food security, and opens up new revenue possibilities and opportunities for automation in agriculture. Achieving sustainable food security supported by self-sustaining agricultural mechanization strategy is emerging as the cornerstone for the growth of automation in agriculture. Benefits of mechanized agriculture practices include increase in crop yields per acre; increase in agricultural production; productivity enhancements; increased efficiency of farming; lower costs; improved farm profitability; enables more land reclamation; prevents soil erosion; enables the shift from `subsistence farming` to commercial agriculture; addresses the problem of labor shortages; and better use of land. All these benefits help in increased crop production thereby increasing food supply, the key to meeting food security goals.
A key trend in the market is the effervescent developments in artificial intelligence (AI) which has the potential to catapult autonomous farm equipment into the next level of efficiency in farming. Autonomous farming systems provide better ways to grow crops. For instance, machine vision powered agri-robots can monitor and spray herbicides only on weeds so as to prevent herbicide resistance; deep learning and image vision embedded equipment aid in smart crop and soil health monitoring helping lessen the annual cost of soil erosion which is over US$46 billion in the U.S alone; lightweight smaller robots alleviate soil compaction issues and help increase crop yields by over 10%; autonomous AI-powered fruit picking machine picks only mature fruits saving humans repetitive tasks; crop spraying drones significantly reduce the amount of pesticides and insecticides used and eliminates the risk of overspray. The United States and Europe represent the largest markets worldwide with a combined share of 52.7%. China ranks as the fastest growing market with a 16.7% CAGR over the analysis period against the backdrop of the emergence of smart agriculture as a new industry in the country. Farming methods and practices are rapidly changing in China. From Northwestern Xinjiang to Jiansanjiang, several pilot projects are underway involving driverless tractors, satellites, drones, pest-detecting cameras and farmerless farms. Asia-Pacific excluding China follows next with a 16.4% CAGR with India and other Southeast Asian countries, also racing to digitalize farming.