Technology Innovations In Agriculture

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This week – Drones In Agriculture

The world population is growing steadily, and now it has reached 7.7 billion people. One question that comes to mind is, what are all these people going to eat? First and foremost, this question is addressed to the agriculture industry.

The growing population is hardly the only challenge facing modern farmers. What about labor shortages and consumers asking for eco-friendly sustenance? The answer to all these questions is smart farming.  Last week, we discussed vertical farming, this week we will discuss farm automation or more specifically, the use of drones in agriculture.

Farm automation, often associated with “smart farming”, is technology that makes farms more efficient and automates the crop or livestock production cycle. An increasing number of companies are working on robotics innovation to develop drones, autonomous tractors, robotic harvesters, automatic watering, and seeding robots. Although these technologies are fairly new, the industry has seen an increasing number of traditional agriculture companies adopt farm automation into their processes. 

Drones In Agriculture
The future of drones in agriculture looks promising: by 2026, analysts claim, the market for agriculture drones is set to reach $6,52 billion, expanding at 31, 4% CARG. The demand continues to grow as the costs of drones decrease and as drone software in agriculture gets increasingly sophisticated.

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The use of drones for precision agriculture is gaining momentum because of their capability to deliver the most up-to-date info fast and efficiently. The evolution of drone software and its overall affordability also account for the increased application of drones. Let’s now explore how drones can be used for agriculture, more specifically. 

Estimating soil condition- Smart farming is data-driven, enabling farmers to take action based on accurate information on soil conditions. Extracting this data had previously involved physical visits to the field and gathering metrics manually. Equipped with agriculture smart sensors, drones can collect and deliver this data – needless to say, they can also do it in a faster and more precise manner.

Planting future crops- The soil gets prepared for planting and a drone shoots seeds in it, rather than using outdated planting techniques. Using drones for seed planting is relatively new, yet, some companies are experimenting with this approach.  Unmanned aircrafts can also spray fields with water, fertilizers or herbicides, reducing costs, manual labor and time spent on these processes.

Fighting infections and pests – Not only can agriculture drones inform farmers on soil conditions using thermal, multispectral and hyperspectral technology, they can also detect field areas inflicted by weeds, infections and pests. Based on this data, farmers can decide on the exact amounts of chemicals needed to fight infestations, and not only help reduce expenses, but also contribute to better field health.

Agriculture spraying – Smart farms also use drones for agriculture spraying, which helps limit human contact with fertilizers, pesticides and other harmful chemicals. Drones can handle this task faster and more efficiently than vehicles and airplanes; they are also a great alternative for farms that still use manual labor. Drones are also irreplaceable when it comes to spot treatment. They can detect infected areas with sensors and cameras and work on them while leaving the healthy part of the field intact. This not only saves time and increases safety, but also helps reduce expenses.

Crop surveillance- Agricultural fields occupy large areas, and it’s often nearly impossible to estimate the overall state of crops. By using drones for agriculture mapping, farmers can stay updated on the health of plants in a particular area and indicate which field areas require attention.  To estimate the state of crops, drones inspect the field with infrared cameras and determine light absorption rates. Based on accurate, real-time info, farmers can take measures to improve the state of plants in any location.

Livestock monitoring – In livestock farming, drones can keep an eye on the cattle as it grazes on pastures, reducing the need for human workforce on horseback and trucks. Using thermal sensor technology, drones can find lost cattle, detect injured or sick animals, and calculate their exact numbers. Admittedly, drones are capable of doing a better cattle surveillance job than herding dogs.

Team Guyana Robotics 2022 set to compete in the First Global Challenge in which more than 180 countries in the world will send teams to represent in Geneva, Switzerland
Preparing to engage in a global cooperition (cooperation + competition) among youths from more than 180 countries in the world is an unforgettable and empowering experience.  For the first time since 2019, high school students, mentors, volunteers, and supporters from more than 180 countries will come together face-to-face in the spirit of global purpose, unity, and collaboration.

There is no more appropriate place for this year’s FIRST Global Challenge than Geneva, the “Capital of Peace” where nations gather to solve diplomatic challenges and where scientific innovation flourishes. FIRST Global provides an opportunity for young people across the globe to leverage the power of technology, use their knowledge and abilities, and cooperate to collectively tackle the planet’s most pressing challenges. The event is the culmination of year-long activities centered on student teams who use a standard kit of parts to design and assemble a robot to complete tasks in a themed game. Throughout the competition, they will join forces with other teams’ robots in the spirit of Coopertition® in an “Olympics”-style experience unlike any other.

Close to home, team organizers are working to clean up the clubhouse, recruit, train and select the 2022 team, schedule practices, research, design and build a globally competitive robot solution, while recruiting corporate sponsors to help fund snacks, transportation and competition registration and travel to Switzerland.  Although management of the annual event continues to be a huge undertaking, Guyanese youth continue to prove themselves as worthy competitors and global citizens demonstrated by their performance results and acknowledgement by the First Global Leadership team over the past five years of participation.

“Participants will see how they can compete to each provide better solutions, but more importantly, how they can work together. We’re all on the same team. We’re all competing with the same global challenges…,” said FIRST Global Founder and renowned inventor Dean Kamen.

The Geneva event will mark the sixth year for FIRST Global, and its first European event. Prior FIRST Global Challenges were held in Washington, D.C., Mexico City, and Dubai. With a mission to inspire leadership and innovation among the globe’s nearly 2 billion youth through the sport of robotics, FIRST Global believes it is through science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) that the world’s next generation can work together to create a better world for us all.

For more information on tryouts, volunteering or to sponsor Team Guyana 2022, email stemguyana@gmail.com.

Guyanese Parents Must Also Become Lifelong Learners; The “Parent Academy” Can Help
Based on a 2020 online parent survey conducted by STEM Guyana Inc (STEM Guyana), 72.2% of households reported that they did not own a tablet or computer, 68.8% use their cellphone for children to access their classes and 64% of children relied on manual worksheets distributed by the Ministry of Education as the primary teaching and assignment tool. When parents were asked how they rate their financial struggle, 52.1% reported struggling, and over 67% of parents reported that they felt ill equipped to assist their children with education.

The Parent Academy (virtual) was created to provide support to parents, many of whom admitted that they struggled to understand their children’s primary grades Math, Science and even English homework.   STEMGuyana Director, Karen Abrams shared that, “We enlisted partners to help us to build an academic model which includes a virtual parent academy where parents are encouraged to refresh themselves with ten-minute lessons in Math, Science & English.  The goal is to help them to work with their own children in the home. The academy also provides an opportunity for parents to learn about the new technologies to which their children are being exposed.”

The academic divide created largely by the COVID pandemic which resulted in school closures overwhelmingly affected children from vulnerable communities many of whom had limited access to the internet and to organized lesson plans and supervision which would have allowed them to remain academically ontrack for their current grade levels.  The Ministry of Education continues to roll out programs to identify and assist these students, but closing this academic divide will take the entire village of schools, parents, teachers, NGOs, and an army of devoted volunteers to tackle the problems of literacy, closing academic gaps, school dropouts, juvenile crime and to literally ensure that no Guyanese child will ill prepared to contribute meaningfully to the development of Guyana.

Parents are encouraged to register for the parent academy at www.stemguyana.com and to invest no more than 15 minutes to 20 minutes each day learning the fundamental concepts in Math, English & Science which directly reflect the lessons their children are learning in their classrooms.  Recruiting parents to join a national army of education support resources could help to exponentially increase the rate of closure of the academic divide which plagues not only Guyana but most developing countries.  For more information on the parent academy, email stemguyana@gmail.com.

Robin The Robot’s weekly roundup – What are robots?
Hiya Kids! Thank you for tuning in to last week’s  “Robin The Robot” show! In our previous column, we discussed solar energy and this week we’re going to learn about pollution, so don’t forget to tune into the Learning Channel on Saturday mornings to view complete episodes.

Let’s talk about garbage pollution in Guyana.  Garbage pollution seems to be at an all time high in our country! Many of our streets and waterways are filled with garbage; it is not uncommon to walk past a trench  and see it filled with plastic bottles!

Dumping litter on sidewalks or along curbs often causes it to get washed down into storm drains and waterways during a heavy rain. Eventually this water leads to the nearest river or ocean. If the water becomes polluted from litter we can no longer use it for drinking or recreation. Dumping plastic rubbish, including grocery bags, quickly fills up landfills and regularly clog drains. Plastic litter can drift out to sea, where animals like turtles or dolphins may ingest the plastic. Animals may mistake the items of litter floating in the water as food and could choke on them or they may get entangled in it. The plastic creates horrendous health problems for the animals, which can include depleting their nutrients and blocking their stomachs and intestines. Animals cannot break down plastic in their digestive system and will typically die from the obstruction. Parts of plastic can also get tangled around animals’ bodies or heads and cause injury or death.

Litter in water supply from consumer and commercial use creates a toxic environment. The water is ingested by fish and a variety of other animals. The toxins may cause blood clotting, seizures or serious medical issues that can kill animals. The toxic water may also kill off surrounding plant life on riverbanks and the bottom of a pond’s ecosystem. When humans eat animals that have ingested compromised water supplies, they also can become sick.

Litter Creates Visual Pollution

The presence of litter makes a place unclean and very unpleasant to the eyes, damaging the aesthetics of a place. Not only does litter look dirty, it may carry germs. Some animals are attracted to areas with lots of litter. They find their food among the trash and can pick up the germs and become carriers for diseases that may make people sick. Litter is bad for the environment. It wastes our natural resources. When cans and bottles are discarded on the roadside instead of being recycled, more resources must be used to create cans and bottles from new materials.

However, all hope is not lost! I know when you look at plastic bottles on the ground, you think it is just garbage, but there is so much more that it can be transformed into! Just remember the Three R’s! Reduce, Reuse and Recycle! 

Tune into the Learning Channel every Saturday morning at 9:30am to join Robin The Robot and have fun while you learn.  All Robin The Robot episodes can also be found online at www.robintherobot.tv.

National Parent Outreach Program Launched; Angoys Avenue Parents Came Out In Their Numbers To Learn More About How The Program Is Helping Their Children

 The Learning Pod’s parent outreach program launched last Wednesday with a visit to the Angoy’s Avenue Learning Pod in New Amsterdam.  More than 25 parents came out to learn more about the program in which their children are enrolled and to get their questions about the parent academy answered by the leadership team.

One pressing issue identified was that the program which was currently designed to    provide academic support for 24 children had enrolled more than 45 children who desperately needed the ‘additional lessons’ to help them to fill gaps created by being out of school for two years. Adjustments to program design will include reducing the size of the classes by introducing additional lesson sessions and recruiting more volunteers to help with academic support.  

Parents were educated on the high quality of instruction being offered to their children and were counseled to ensure that students attended every session.  Parents were also encouraged to ensure that children were encouraged to remain in the program even if they struggled with literacy issues, as more literacy support programs were being introduced to help children to learn to read and comprehend.

Teachers and volunteers at the Angoys Avenue Learning Pod

The Learning Pod parent outreach will continue with both virtual and in person parent meetings in all of the 29 learning pods across 9 regions of Guyana.  Parents were encouraged to play an active role in ensuring that their children were adequately prepared to make a meaningful contribution to the development of Guyana by ensuring that they take full advantage of, not only the learning pods program, but all opportunities to improve their academic outcomes.  Parents were also reminded that children still needed sports, free play, arts and other outlets to help them develop as whole human beings.



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