Advancing Technology in Agriculture

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By Alison DeLoach

Glen Rains

High-price specialized agricultural equipment is not affordable for many family farms. Glen Rains, professor at the University of Georgia in the College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences, is working to create a solution to this problem.

Rains participated in a panel discussion on the future of agricultural technology at the 2019 Southeast Regional Fruit and Vegetable Conference. He discussed his work to develop a multipurpose intelligent vehicle that can be used for many different operations on the farm. 

This small vehicle would help growers plant, spray, scout and harvest. The machine would allow growers to have a single piece of equipment with changeable parts, rather than multiple pieces of equipment. For instance, a robotic arm could be programmed to perform different functions, allowing the vehicle to be used all year long.

Rains says he is interested in developing a vehicle that has the capability to be used for several different crops. Currently, he is focusing on cotton crops. Cotton Incorporated has funded a lot of the research for the vehicle. Rains hopes to see the vehicle used in other crops as well. In particular, he wants the vehicle to be used for harvesting vegetable crops like tomatoes and bell peppers. 

The technology panel at the Southeast Regional Fruit and Vegetable Conference.

Rains is working on the development of the machine. He mentioned there is a prototype that was tested last year for harvesting. Recently he received funding to add another graduate student to the project to look at changing the arm on the machine so that it can weed crops, in addition to harvesting them.

“I think there’s a lot of talented people involved and really enthusiastic about the future of this technology. It’s very challenging, and I think the people that are drawn to it see it as having a lot of potential.”

Hear the full interview with AgNet Media’s Tacy Callies: