16 November 2017 - Stuttgart, Germany
With farmers using sensors to determine the perfect time for harvesting, consulting apps to measure soil temperature, and steering automated tractors across fields, the market for agricultural technology is growing worldwide. It is also a lucrative field for Bosch. From powertrain systems for tractors and hydraulic solutions for agricultural machinery to connected products for smart farming, the company is transferring automotive technology to agriculture, and is already generating sales worth 1 billion euros as a result. Moreover, this business is set to keep growing. By the middle of the next decade, Bosch plans to double sales of technologies for agriculture. “Bosch can do more than cars and cordless screwdrivers. We are bringing high tech to farms, opening up a market worth billions,” says Dr. Markus Heyn, member of the Robert Bosch GmbH board of management.
Bosch’s business with agricultural technology is growing
Bosch wants to make agriculture more sustainable and more efficient. The challenges are considerable, since the world is home to a constantly growing number of people. According to studies, the world’s population will total 8 billion by 2025. To feed people, more food needs to be grown. But the amount of arable land is not growing. That means farmers need to increase their yields. While one farmer fed 4 people in 1900, the figure now is 155 people – and that figure is on the rise (source: Rheinischer Landwirtschafts-Verband).
One key to higher yields and more efficiency in the field is connectivity. Studies indicate that the market for digital agriculture is set to grow worldwide from 3.5 billion euros today to 6 billion euros. Smart farming and the connectivity of agriculture are catapulting farms into the future, and are also driving forward new technologies at Bosch. “Through the internet of things and the Bosch IoT Cloud, we are making farms digital,” Heyn says. There are very few companies apart from Bosch that have the necessary software, sensor technology, and service expertise. From field connectivity to machinery, Bosch solutions support farmers in their everyday work and help optimize harvests or make operating processes more efficient. Bosch is also applying MEMS sensors originally developed for cars to agriculture. These sensors measure relevant values such as temperature and humidity, and transmit them via the cloud to farmers’ smartphones. Using an app, they are able to keep an eye on their crops at all times, no matter where they are, without having to actively check on crops in the field. Farmers save time and increase the quality and yields of their products. Another service that the Bosch IoT Cloud can help make reality is connecting agricultural machinery. Vehicle data can be used to predict faults and remedy them in good time, preventing breakdowns and expensive repairs in the first place.
Photo: Smart Spraying technology (credit: Bosch)
Photo: Smart sensor to collect agricultural information (credit: Bosch)
Spraying and saving
Not only is Bosch making farmers’ work easier and helping them increase yields, the company is also helping make agriculture more environmentally friendly through technology. As part of a research partnership with Bayer, Bosch is developing smart spraying technology. Using camera sensors, it is able to differentiate between crops and weeds and target weeds with pesticides, at lightning speed, in a single process. “Smart spraying sustainably clears fields of weeds. This safeguards yields while minimizing environmental impact,” Heyn says.
Bosch’s system expertise is making agricultural machinery more efficient and convenient to use. Smart Cab, which Bosch co-developed as a member of the CAB concept cluster, turns agricultural vehicles into connected command centers in the field. All components, vehicles, cameras, and drones alike, can interact with each other in the smart cab. Via the cloud, camera drones send detailed pictures of the condition of crops to the driver’s cab, and operators can receive warnings from the object recognition camera about living obstacles such as deer. Using a feature store, vehicle users can download certain functions over the air directly to the machine. In this way, nozzles can be adjusted depending on weather conditions and the state of the soil, for example.