The global agriculture drones and robots market size was valued at USD 11.37 billion in 2022. It is estimated to reach USD 68.58 billion by 2031, growing at a CAGR of 22.1% during the forecast period (2023–2031).
Agriculture drones and robots assist with agricultural chores such as crop monitoring, pesticide, herbicide application, seeding, and harvesting. Agriculture drones and robots are significant because they can help producers increase efficiency and productivity while reducing costs. Drones used in agriculture are aerial machines used for data collection and other agricultural chores. These drones' primary purpose is to automate repetitive tasks like crop monitoring, weeding, fertilizing, and harvesting. These tools can be used for various tasks, including protecting plants and dusting crops.
Drones for agriculture can also be used to map fields, which aids in better planning of crops and soil management and offers data on yield, among other things. Agricultural robots are robotic devices created to carry out agriculturally related tasks. They can be used to carry out duties like planting, weeding, and sorting, and they can even keep an eye on the health of the crops and the soil. However, robotics is primarily used in agriculture today during the harvesting process. These robots are designed to replace human labor in the agricultural field.
Increasing Adoption of Automation in Agriculture
Automated agricultural equipment is changing the global agriculture industry. Population growth and trade policy affect food pricing, supply chains, and delivery. Western consumers desire sustainable and organic foods, which require additional labor. The agriculture industry, suffering workforce shortages, must meet changing client preferences. Due to workforce shortages for harvesting and maintaining crops, many farmers need help growing higher-quality crops. Thus, farmers worldwide use drones and robots to minimize labor costs and boost efficiency.
As the need for automation in agriculture has grown, several countries are taking initiatives to bring automation into farming activities. For instance, since 2019, the National Agriculture and Food Research Organization (NARO) of Japan has monitored and supported 124 innovative agriculture demonstration projects across Japan, featuring the usage of the latest state-of-the-art innovative farming technology and solutions practically. The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries (MAFF) has also advocated deregulating agricultural drones in Japan. Such initiatives have led to increased adoption of drones in the agriculture industry.
Escalating Adoption of Precision Agriculture Technologies
Precision agriculture is a farming strategy used to manage agriculture fields by gathering, processing, and analyzing individual and spatial data. The technology has been gaining farmer's traction due to its time and cost-saving benefits. Precision agricultural techniques are expected to become more popular as large farms, particularly those with more than 4,000 acres of land under cultivation, continue to grow in popularity. In theFarm sizes in the U.S., Canada, and Australia are much more significant than in other countries. Hence, the adoption rate for precision agriculture technologies is much higher in these countries.
Precision agriculture makes use of drones and robots for several applications. For instance, drones are used for crop and soil analysis, pesticide spraying, and planting. Likewise, agriculture robots are used in the technology for field navigation and interpreting the assigned task. Hence, with the growing adoption of precision agriculture technology, demand for drones and robots is also expected to increase soon.
Lack of Technological Awareness among Farmers
Farmers confront difficulties utilizing the technology even though drones and robots have many advantages. In some developing countries, farmers have restrained themselves from adopting IT technologies in farming methods. They hesitate to use conventional sources due to less knowledge about the new technologies and heavy investments in adopting them. In developing countries such as India, most farmers are based in villages where the adoption of digital technologies could be much higher. As implementing drones and robots in agriculture requires digitalization and IT technology, farmers find the implementation difficult compared to conventional farming methods, thereby restricting the market growth.
Rising Indoor Farming Activities
Indoor farming is a method of growing plants or crops on a large scale indoors. The technology makes use of drones to monitor crops in indoor farms as well as to create an artificial environment for the growth of crops. Indoor farming technology is highly emerging due to certain benefits associated with it as compared to conventional farming methods. For example, indoor crops can be grown in three dimensions rather than two and all year long, regardless of the weather outside.
Indoor farming is a modern agriculture technology adopted chiefly in developed countries. The U.S. has witnessed significant investments in indoor farming technology, such as a USD 100 million investment made in Morehead, Kentucky, for building a greenhouse for the tomato and cucumber project in 2002. Such investments are projected to increase the growth of indoor farming technology in the country. As drones are used in several indoor-farm applications, the future potential for the deployment of drones and robots in indoor farming is high in the coming years, creating opportunities for market growth.
The global market is bifurcated into robot type, drone type, and robot applications.
Based on robot type, the global market is bifurcated into crop harvesting robots, milking robots, weeding robots, and others.
The milking robots segment dominates the global market and is predicted to exhibit a CAGR of 21.6% over the forecast period. A milking robot is an automated milking technique for cows to drink, eat, and be milked in their schedule. Milking robot systems automatically give a computer-formulated diet to the cows, removing the need for manual labor. The primary factor driving the growth of milking robots is growing animal welfare concerns among farmers coupled with the lack of labor in countries. In addition, the demand for milking robots is mainly concentrated in European countries and North America. The primary reason behind the massive demand for milking robots in these countries is strict animal welfare regulations coupled with the labor shortage in the countries.
Weeding robots help weed control in farms by distinguishing weeds from desired crops and removing them using laser technologies. Autonomous weeding robots provide an alternative to hand weeding by increasing the efficiency and economic cost of the process. Robotics technology used for weeding is much cheaper than other conventional methods as it eliminates the labor cost included in the process. Such benefits offered by weeding robots are projected to increase product demand in the forecast period.
Based on drone type, the global market is bifurcated into fixed-wing drones, rotary-wing drones, and others.
The rotary-wing drones segment owns the highest market share and is predicted to grow at a CAGR of 21.5% over the forecast period. Rotary-wing drones are the most common type of drones used in the agriculture industry. The drone looks like a small helicopter with over 4-8 rotors. Rotary-wing drones have a high demand from small farms as these drones can provide an aerial view of a small area for a short period of time. These drones serve as the most economical option for getting an aerial view of farms.
Fixed-wing drone is an aircraft that operates without any human pilot. A human operator can control these drones remotely or autonomously through computers. Demand for fixed-wing drones is expected to grow during the forecast period as the product requires less battery than hybrid drones. Various established brands also offer fixed-wing drones to meet the demand for compact and long-battery life drones, positively influencing the market growth.
Based on robot applications, the global agriculture drones and robots market is divided into crop monitoring, dairy farm management, inventory management, harvesting and picking, and others.
The crop monitoring segment is the most significant contributor to the market and is predicted to exhibit a CAGR of 22.7% over the forecast period. Monitoring crop growth and performance is an essential part of agricultural management activities. Crop monitoring done through manual labor takes more effort and time than automated crop monitoring. Farmers are increasingly adopting robotic technology for crop monitoring applications to increase the accuracy and reliability of data. Furthermore, industry players are introducing agriculture robots that can perform multiple tasks with crop monitoring, thereby fueling segment growth in the coming years.
Inventory management in agriculture refers to keeping track of finished products and raw materials such as pesticides, fertilizers, seeds, fuels, or other materials used in farm production. Agriculture inventory management is a time taking process and requires more accuracy. Hence, farmers are moving toward automated robots for accuracy in inventory management applications. The demand for automation in agriculture inventory management is projected to grow as farmers adopt robots in warehouse applications during the forecast time frame.
Based on region, the global market is bifurcated into North America, South America, Europe, Asia-Pacific and Japan, China, the U.K., and the Middle East and Africa.
North America is the most significant global agriculture drones and robots market shareholder and is estimated to exhibit a CAGR of 21.9% during the forecast period. The agriculture industry in North America is highly focused on sustainable practices. The region has a different platform to promote sustainability in agriculture practices, such as the North America Climate Smart Agriculture Alliance (NACSAA). NACSAA is a platform for educating and equipping farmers and agriculture partners to provide innovation in the agriculture industry by adopting sustainable measures. As the region is highly inclined toward sustainability, the market for agriculture drones and robots will grow in North America. North America's lack of human labor is a significant factor propelling the region's demand for agriculture drones and robots. Another factor uplifting the growth of agriculture drones and robots in North America is increasing demand for yield improvement and reducing the overall cost of farming by reducing labor costs simultaneously.
Asia-Pacific and Japan is anticipated to exhibit a CAGR of 25.3% over the forecast period. Asia-Pacific and Japan region is projected to witness a high growth rate in the market. The growing technological advancements in the agriculture sector of Asian countries are expected to remain the primary factor uplifting the demand for agriculture robots in the region. Furthermore, Asian counties have faced multiple challenges in agriculture, such as population growth, aging farmers, and rural-to-urban migration. Such challenges have led countries to adopt advanced technologies influencing the demand for agriculture drones and robots. Moreover, the growing demand for food production in Asian countries is also expected to escalate the adoption of agriculture drones and robots in Asian countries.
Europe is projected to increase at a substantial rate in the global market. The growing investments and initiatives for agriculture technology advancements are the key reason behind the growth of the European agriculture drones and robots market. For instance, startup companies such as France-based Delair and Switzerland-based Gamaya offer visual intelligence solutions that allow farmers to capture, manage and analyze their crops, to turn data into valuable insights. The key manufacturers of agriculture drones and robots operating in Europe include Parrot, DJI, Microdrones, John Deere, Delair, De Laval, GEA Farm Technologies, Atos, and Delair.
The growing modernization in the agriculture industry of the U.K., coupled with the presence of a vast manufacturing base of drones, is the primary reason for uplifting the demand for agriculture drones in the country. Many of the farms in the country are already using advanced technologies, while other countries are still in the development phase to use advanced technologies.
The Middle East and Africa regional analysis include key agricultural drones and robots market regions, such as Saudi Arabia, U.A.E, and South Africa. The growing population in the region resulting in escalating demand for food production is the key growth driver for the region's agriculture drones and robots market. In order to bring efficiency to the agriculture sector, farmers are opting for automation in farming methods. However, severe climatic conditions unsuitable for crop production are witnessed in various parts of the region, which is a critical challenge for farmers in the Middle East. Almost two-thirds of the Middle East population lives in areas lacking sufficient renewable water resources to sustain crop production, hampering the market expansion. Furthermore, the growing smart agriculture trend in the region will remain the primary driver for South America's agriculture drones and robots market growth. The agriculture sector in the region is transforming by adopting advanced technologies for corn, soybean, and cotton production, which is projected to trigger agriculture robot demand in the region.
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