The Global Unmanned Spraying System, or the GUSS.
The Global Unmanned Spraying System, or the GUSS.

California’s ag industry shifts to artificial intelligence.

Natalie Willis, Reporter, Valley Ag Voice 

Farming in California has always been labor intensive, but recent technological developments mark a new future for the industry. According to the USDA, modern agricultural operations routinely utilize technological advancements, including robots, temperature and moisture sensors, drones, and GPS technology to assist daily operations.  


On June 3, a robot designed to streamline harvest operations and reduce farmworker injuries won top prize at the 2023 Farm Robotics Challenge. The robot from UC Davis increases efficiency in harvesting by monitoring risky postures and carrying harvested crops.  

Robots that assist in farming procedures are growing in popularity and use as they require limited human intervention, thereby addressing the current labor shortage. The advancements of robotics in agriculture has increased in value after a report in 2019 from the California Farm Bureau Federation which found that farmers were forced to significantly scale back their harvest as a result of the worker shortage.  

According to SPER market research, the global market on autonomous agriculture robots is expected to reach over $34 billion by 2032. Other emerging technologies such as robotic milkers and self-driving tractors are pushing agriculture toward an era of artificially intelligent farmhands. 

Along with advancements in automated harvesting, the agriculture industry is shifting to skill-based labor with personnel trained in ag-tech to provide oversight on technological operations. In May, a summit hosted by Bakersfield College, the California Department of Food and Agriculture, and the Western Growers Center for Innovation and Technology, discussed the future of agriculture technology education as agribusiness strides toward more high-tech endeavors.  

At the summit, Linsey Mebane, performance analyst for Tasteful Selections, explained that the next generation of agribusiness leaders must understand the emerging technologies to remain competitive and efficient. 

“We’re all trying to learn and grow and pack better, faster, stronger with less,” Mebane said. “You have this orchard, and you need to produce twice as much now with half the water. [It’s] just keeping us all moving because it’s not going to get any easier in ag.” 

Previous articleGenetically Altered Produce Just Hit the Market 
Next articleAg Digest: Animal Welfare Labeling, Cattle Shortage, and Legislative Battles