By Steve Lohr, The New York Times
About 150 Jersey cows in the rolling terrain at Rivendale Farms in Bulger, some 25 miles west of Pittsburgh, wear Fitbit-like collars that monitor their movement, eating and rumination patterns. They are milked not by humans but by robotic machines.
A nearby greenhouse, about a quarter-acre in size and filled with salad-bowl crops like kale, arugula and baby carrots, is automated. The temperature, humidity and sunlight are controlled by sensors and retractable metallic screens. And soon, small robots may roam the farm’s eight acres of vegetable crops outdoors to spot disease and pluck weeds.
Farming in America is increasingly a high-tech endeavor. Combines guided by GPS, drones, satellite imagery, soil sensors and supercomputers all help the nation’s food production. Yet that technology is mainly tailored for big industrial farms, where fields stretch as far as the eye can see.
Rivendale Farms, which has just completed its first year of full operations, offers a glimpse of technology coming available for smaller farms.