3D Printing in Agriculture – A Match Made in Heaven
At first glance, agriculture and technology may not go hand-in-hand. Often times, we associate technology to the future, while agriculture reminds us of the past. However, today, agriculture by far the most adaptable industry and ready for 3D printers. The technology is bringing an instrumental change in the way we feed ourselves. For a long time, agriculture has been dependent on hard-driven components, many of which are difficult to replace in case of failure. Imagine a farm located in a rural area of Michigan where the closest supply store is hours away. When things break down on the farm, replacement becomes a costly affair. However, if the neighboring farm has a 3D printing machine, farmers can easily print the default part and use it without affecting the productivity.
Here are a few benefits of using 3D technology in farming:
3D Printing: Solving problems for the Irrigation process
Getting water available to every plant is a challenge and irrigation is a crucial aspect of agriculture. Installing a robust irrigation system is a nightmare for farmers because it burns a hole in their pocket. More than 60% of water is wasted either due to leakage or evaporation. Furthermore, pipes are transported from a supplier to the agricultural land, leaving no scope of changing the landscape of the irrigation pattern. Companies are using 3D printers to print polymer pipes on the farming land. These pipes form a honeycomb structure from which water flows out, much like in a sponge. These pipes absorb the moisture of the soil and transport it to the plant. Using these pipes, a farmer can easily plant the seeds. The 3D technology is ensuring an efficient and eco-friendly way to deal with irrigation problem.
3D printing To monitor the crops
The 3D technology is creating ripples in the agriculture industry and empowering the farmers to monitor their crops. To help the farmers, students of Carleton University in Ottawa have come up with a 3D printed drone which can help the farmers monitor the crops. The 3D printed drone can be controlled by the farmers using an open source software and will fly over the agricultural land and take pictures. The photos will provide infrared readings on information concerning how well the plants are facilitating the photosynthesis process. Using this information, farmers can adjust the amount of water and fertilizer to their crop and increase the crop yield. 3D technology in agriculture is touching those areas and providing crucial information, which otherwise was inaccessible to the farmers.
3D printing reduces waste
In the coming years, 3D technology will not be a reason for the ‘death of small farmers’ because farmers can turn the technology in their favor. 3D printing is helping farmers reduce material wastage and decreasing the cost of farming. Furthermore, sensors and drones are keeping the farmers better informed than ever by providing information on soil, pests, and weather. The more informed a farmer is, the higher is the production and the lower is the wastage.
For farmers, it’s probably the right time to adapt the agricultural technology because, in the coming years, agriculture is going to rely heavily on 3D printing technology.