As farmers face pressure to produce more food with sustainable practices and less labor, agtech relies on innovations in compressed air to deliver efficient, resourceful tools.

shutterstock_742534591-1Modern farmers find themselves at the intersection of complex challenges — forecasted global population growth that will necessitate 70 percent more worldwide food production by 2050, labor shortages, and consumer demands for sustainably-grown products.

The call for higher-quality food produced with less manpower can be overwhelming, but the agricultural sector has a long history of adapting to innovation and using ingenuity to create solutions that were not immediately apparent. In fact, the agtech (agricultural technology) sector is rapidly expanding to tackle these problems, seeing a 32% funding increase to 2.6 billion dollars in 2017 alone.

New technology is adapting the cross-functionality of air compressors to make farming more efficient and more productive. From entirely novel applications of the air compressor to newly automated tools that use compressed air, agtech is revolutionizing the way air compressors help farmers do their jobs in five critical areas.

Crop Planting & Protection 

Perhaps one of the most exciting advancements in air compressor technology, recent developments indicate that air compression could eliminate manual labor from one of agriculture’s most important — and most time-consuming — tasks: growing crops.

Prototypes are underway for drones that can plant seeds autonomously, using compressed air to shoot pods containing seeds, fertilizer, and other nutrients into soil from above.  To ensure that these planted crops mature to the harvesting stage, farmers must also protect their crops from disease and pests.

To this end, air compressors promise to reduce the time it takes to spray plants with fungicides or insecticides by streamlining the spraying process. Instead of treating each tree in an orchard with a manual sprayer, farmers can decrease the labor necessary for this task — while increasing the speed at which it is accomplished — by loading an air compressor in a vehicle and having one operator spray trees with a hose attachment as the truck moves.

Livestock & Aquaculture Care

When it comes to raising animals, air compressors serve a wide range of uses, from milking livestock to aerating pools of water. Given the labor-intensive nature of dairy work, air compressors economize the milking process a great deal by powering milking machines as well as pneumatic gates and chutes, helping to position cows, milk them, and route the milk to storage.

Aquafarming benefits from air compressors by using them to power filtration systems and oxygenators, which aerate the water in pools, ponds, and aquaculture systems and deters the growth of unwelcome cultures, like algae.

Farm Maintenance

Air compressors offer a great deal of power to quickly clean large-scale production areas, barnyards, and tools, conserving energy and money on the maintenance of equipment and spaces.

Compressed air does not just come in handy when tidying up; it also saves farmers’ money when they have sunk costs in malfunctioning systems that are already in place. For example, air compressor tools that blow soil out from the drainage field system can reopen pipes in septic systems, saving farm-owners the trouble of replacing it.

Construction

Compressed air isn’t just useful for the upkeep of agricultural structures – they’re handy for building them, as well. Pneumatic staplers and nail guns rapidly accomplish once arduous tasks, like running wire between posts, repairing barn doors, attaching shingles, and more. And, once you’ve concluded the building stage, a spray gun can help you paint more quickly, evenly, and neatly than by hand.

Conservation

Finally, compressed air technology holds the potential to transform wind-farming. Although the Iowa Stored Energy Park had to abandon its initial attempt to use stored compressed air as an energy source for wind turbines due to unsuitable geography, the project’s lead consultant concluded that the fundamental economics of using compressed air to generate electricity are promising.

If future efforts prove successful, wind turbines could harness energy at night to compress air in underground storage, which would depressurize to spin turbines during the day as energy demand peaks. By ensuring that energy distribution is steady, even throughout periods of flat wind, the accomplishment of this vision would have a monumental impact on the feasibility of powering farms with renewable energy.

As air compression technology evolves, its versatility continues to evidence how a single compressor makes for a farm-friendly powerhouse — from planting seeds and milking goats today to producing reliable renewable energy tomorrow.

As air compression technology evolves, its versatility continues to evidence how a single compressor makes for a farm-friendly powerhouse — from planting seeds and milking goats today to producing reliable renewable energy tomorrow.

Topics: Air Compressor, air compressor industry, Science

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