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Our lives are frequently and significantly affected by food. Because we must eat to survive, many human cultures have developed with food at their very core. The goal of this podcast is to explore the complexity and nuance of food systems, celebrate the progress we have made, and debate the best ways for humans to proceed forward into the future. 

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Apr 13, 2021

How do we plan to feed 9.8 billion people by 2050? Increasing the availability of sustainable, arable land through the use of modern robotics could help to expand food production, and reduce the need for destruction of forested land. 

 In this episode of our podcast, we talk with Dr. Dan Flippo, Patrick Wilburn Keystone Research Scholar in biological and agricultural engineering at Kansas State University, about the work he is doing to mesh state-of-the-art robotic technology with food production to move toward sustainably feeding the world past 2050.



Robotics + agriculture with Dr. Dan Flippo, biological and agricultural engineering

Something to Chew On is a podcast devoted to the exploration and discussion of Global Food Systems produced by the Office of Research Development at Kansas State University. I'm Maureen Olewnik, coordinator of Global Food Systems.

I'm Scott Tanona. I'm a Philosopher of Science.

I’m Jon Faubion. I’m a Food Scientist.

Hello everyone and welcome back to the Kansas State University Global Food Systems podcast Something to Chew On. How do we plan to feed 9.8 billion people by 2050? Increasing the availability of sustainable arable land through the use of modern robotics could help to expand food production, potentially reducing the destruction of forested land. In this episode of our podcast, we will talk with Dr. Dan Flippo, the Patrick Wilborn Keystone Research Scholar in Biological and Agricultural Engineering at K State, about the work he is doing to mesh state of the art robotic technology with food production to move towards sustainably feeding the world past 2050. Dan, welcome to the podcast. We were looking forward to understanding more about your current research. But before we get into that, can you give us a little background on yourself and how you became interested in this area of study.

So I am actually from Kansas, they grew up near Wichita, a little town called Douglas on what's called a hobby farm nowadays, we didn't call it back then. But my dad worked at the post office all day and then came home and farmed. We didn't have too many acres. It was just enough to, it was more of a side business for him. And he wanted it, like it, for it to expand, but it never worked out. He was plagricultureued with machinery problems. And so we had, I have so many memories of broken tractors and that New Holland baler, his was kind of his bane of his existence, it caused a lot of problems. And so I kind of grew up with this mentality that farmers, you know, they're more machinists, mechanics, you know, and they cost it machinery and things like that. And so I went to, I came to undergrad here at K State, in mechanical engineering. And so some of the professors that are still over there taught me and after that I had really no interest in going back to grad school, I went to work at Cessna aircraft in Wichita. Worked there about eight years. And then I mean, my wife and for son, we quit that job and went to grad school while I was at Wichita State System paid for a master's degree in robotics, and mechanical engineering, but emphasis on robotics. And then we went to the University of Oklahoma. And I studied under Dr. David Miller, who is well known as far as planetary science, planetary robotics, planetary exploration. So nothing to do with agriculture really at all up to that point in my education. So I did a lot of wheel to soil interaction traction, specifically with robots and built a very big test apparatus. And I wanted to teach at K State actually. So the reason we went to Oklahoma, went out of state was the purpose of getting back to K State. And so I learned a lot about just the robotic world and the robotic feel soil interaction, it was regolith, really not soil that. And then after I graduated there, there was new university jobs, nothing and I was really set on being in Kansas. And so opening came up in a John Deere in Iowa, programming large tractors and so this is kind of my getting back into the agriculture world and agriculture industry. So I worked at John Deere for about two and a half years, and that's when K State job came up. And it turned out it more of a postdoc for me, kind of introduced to a lot of features and the customer world of agriculture machinery. Didn't like Iowa, it’s really too cold for me. So in 2013, I applied and we got a job here K State. And Dr. Joe Harner. He's already department head, he had a kind of a vision for robotics and kind of that next phase of agriculture. So he was very intent on getting someone who has specific interests in robotics. And so I came in 2013. And we've been here since then. I teach agriculture machinery courses, off road machinery courses, hydraulics, some mechatronics. engine power transfer. My research is in robotics. And so specifically small robotics, what I mean by that is like wheelchair sized robotics, in the agriculture field, so we've kind of focused on the smaller side, just for safety reasons. Because we've found that, you know, once a robot is big enough to hurt somebody, then the amount of sensors and, and technology and complexity goes way up. And so we've kind of, we've kind of focused in on the smaller robotics, and to try to stay away from all that complexity. If my robots ran into you, they would just either stop or run over your toe or something like that. But they wouldn't, they wouldn't hurt you. So we've been successful. We've been successful with that. We've gotten several grants through USDA, some corn commission grant and some EPSCoR grants with and throughout this time here at K State, I've had some really good collaboration with people. Dr. Stephen Welch has been kind of a mentor to a lot of us. He's got some fun stuff going on. And he's always big into dreaming. And so he's, he's on several of my grants. I'm on his EPSCoR grant, Dr. Brian McCormick over an entomology, we've worked a lot with him, he's always fun. To come up with crazy ideas. We had some ideas about shooting lasers at aphids and things. And so he was all about that he enjoyed that. And so this is where we're at, you know, right now we're trying to finish several of these big grants we got one of them is the high sloped hill, where we're trying to increase our arable land, by farming on on hills that conventional tractors can't go is wouldn't be safe. And so we have these smaller wheelchair size tracked vehicles that plant wheat on hills, and either lead cattle graze on that weed or are harvested. So we're working on that we're working on a Dr. Ajay Sharda, who's my colleagricultureue, he's got an NRI grants, National Robotics Initiative. Both those are and it's, we're have a robot that looks for aphids on sorghum and using machine learning. And this, when it spots an aphid or thinks it does, it sprays just that one plant. And so we have a spray rig on a four wheeled robot, and this will save an immense amount of chemical, both for costs for the farmer and environment. And so I think with you know, it kind of brings up a point where these robotics, we're kind of in a new world, as far as farming goes up into this point, we've progressed, you know, we started with just scattering a seed, then the horses and oxen, and then there was a phase change kind of facing that's assessment term, aircraft term phase changes, when you go from one look to another, a big change in design. He went to two mechanical tractors, you know, there's a lot of farmers thought that they we had cabs on our, on our farmers and we had auto steer, then we had bigger and bigger tractors. And we've come in some some issues with just making tractors bigger and bigger. And we, we've done that because of labor shortages and skilled labor shortages. And so we run into problems with the road, and you know, transportation, getting those big tractors, on Highway, soil compaction, things like that. So what we're really trying to focus on is the smaller vehicles, and this has allowed us to kind of open up the world and kind of get rid of a lot of assumptions about farming, you know, really is you're just getting the seed in the ground. And then you're taking the yield from that plant. And so how do we do that? We have a small vehicle, so we've had to kind of rethink how to plant were we thinking, you know, the options are kind of open right now we can we can think about multi crops in the fields and more environmental conscious farming. You know, one thing that we kind of talked about here is that we're able to do more environmentally responsible agriculture, because we're bringing in technology because we can rethink how we do things with the smaller robots and stuff. That's kind of where we're at.

I'd like to hear just a little bit more about what you think this opens up. So you know, you mentioned the phase change and You know, each of these new technologies really changed the way our culture was done right and a change sometimes change what was what was actually grown change how it has grown change the, you know, economics and, and the nature of farms. And so, you know, with all the openness of the future that you just talked about, it's hard to say, but I'm curious just about what kind of where you think we're heading with all this change? You know, what, what is it? What is it set up for us?

Oh, that's a good question. I mean, I'm just thinking, you know, right now, with my robots, I'm trying to think through how we can redo things but want for instance, I was just having a conversation with Dr. Sharda, the other day about, you know, the whole Native American, they do the three sisters method where they grow beans, squash, and corn all at the same time. And those three crops help each other one fights off bugs, the other one gives, you know, the corn gives the beans, some of the verlon with the small robots and automation, you know, we can think about multi crop fields, and not just mono mono crops. And so that kind of a lot of people, you know, I think farm and they take it a certain way. And right now, there's a lot of startups with, with agriculture robotics. And there's tons of them, a lot of bigger companies like the company I worked for, and even the other two big companies that do agriculture equipment, they're a little scared of having their tractors being autonomous, and then they do concept vehicles, things like that. But, it's a big risk to have a big tractor, computer controlled risk. And for the people that are there, you know, if there was a Sunday there in the field, which has happened, you know, things like that. So, there's a lot that has to happen before, I think these big companies are going to, really sell on autonomous tractors. But the startups are crazy. And they're mostly smaller vehicles. There are some like mid tractor size startup companies. But I think it's going to kind of generate this startup level of people coming ideas and ask them questions like, Why do we have to do it this way? And maybe they're not farmers, maybe they maybe they're just either hobby farmers or urban farmers? You know, why not? I saw a gantry farming thing where it just has like a small bed that you put in your apartment or somewhere and it has a gantry, that plants and that takes care of all the plants and things like that. Um, where are we going? Yeah, that's, an interesting question. I, I don't see us getting rid of tractors for quite some time. I mean, the, the amount of power and work that is done in one pass in those tractors on a flat field is amazing. And I think the tractor companies have really come a long way as far as technology and things. And they're expensive, too. I think for a long time. These smaller tractors, these smaller robots that we're working on, are coming in kind of augmenting, either like on high school Till's or farmers that are just getting going, you know, that scalable, you know, they, they want to farm more land, they just kind of bind the robot, things like that. Right now, we're trying to just get people to rethink because farmers have the kind of the tendency or reputation of being somewhat stubborn. And so they do things the way their dad did data, data is another one. I mean, there's so much data right now, coming off of agriculture vehicles, and fighting over who gets that data. Other companies will say that, that data is the farmers. But so there's so much data that no one knows what to do with. I mean, we have images of fields. And so right now, I think there's going to have to be some people really picking up the data, data analysis part of it to try to help farmers make better decisions.

Do you see the initial use of your work? You mentioned urban farming and that type of thing. And kind of the difficulty in introducing this into the very large scale? Do you see it first being introduced into the smaller urban farming or, you know, smaller farming type systems prior to and then kind of building up from there?

I do. I think people that enjoy that technology, you know, the people that get the iPhones and stuff like that, they all kind of think this is really cool. And start there. I see a big community doing that. That's why with this grant, we kind of try to focus on sloped Hills because this is not any place where a tractor can go. And so this kind of helps feed the world. A big push, you know, I'm sure you guys have heard the 2050 push where, you know, we have to feed over 9 billion people by 2050. And so this is kind of an industry rally cry, you know, John Deere kind of talked about that a lot. So we have really, he tried to bring awareness about that as well. And so one way of doing that is, is opening up these little pills that no one's using.

So do you conceive of these as being scalable? If, if a large producer wanted to take them on rather than having to do, I don't know, how many passes on a, on a three on one subsection field, that there'll be multiple of these units is that?

Yes, yes, it's kind of the scrubbing bubbles, technique. Remember that commercial. So you have, you'll have a bunch of a swarm of robots that will work day and night, to get the work done. And now, my robots are pretty slow, you know, they make one pass really easy, but you can have a bunch of them. And so we're gonna have to, you know, networking, as far as wireless connectivity, you know, in the rural areas, and things like that, is gonna have to be extended quite a bit. So right now, you know, thanks to the bigger tractor companies where we have RTK GPS, which is, you know, very sub centimeter accuracy GPS, and that's, we have a lot of stations and stuff. And so we're able to use that, but we're gonna have to, we're looking at right now, you know, different wireless technologies, Dr. Sharda, especially, is looking at different wireless technologies to get to talk from, you know, inside the canopy of like corn. And so one one, not another nice thing about these small robots is that we can be under the canopy of crops. And we're not looking down at the leaves that are healthy, we're looking at from up and seeing where the bugs are trying to see where water stress is, and try to get to a better health picture of what's going on underneath.

So I was wondering if you could share a little bit more of the details of what has to be done to make these workable, I mean, so we've got some of the promise, right? Sir, we can open up areas like the soap pills, that can be more scalable, you can think about doing things differently, right, in terms of, you know, planting multiple crops, and you can reduce the use of pesticides. Right. So he's awesome, super positive. Right? So, what are the challenges for making it work?

The biggest one, I think of right now is how to keep these guys powered, and how to service them. What I mean by services is, if they're planting, get them seed to plant, if they're harvesting, get that seat away from my vehicles are all like electric, so how to get batteries to them, without them coming back and having to do that. And so we're looking at some different things that actually, I don't know if they're gonna work or not, but we're looking at UAVs, you know, unmanned aerial vehicles to be carrying batteries to service and swap on these on these ground vehicles. And so that's one way of servicing the robot. So you can keep working. We were trying to stay away from fossil fuels, we're trying to keep you know, it all electrical. But the power density for diesel is so much more than a battery. And so it's just a big challenge. You know, if you have other robots, UAVs or other ground robots that are servicing, then you have to have quite a bit of communication between the two, you have to have routing plans. And things get a lot more complicated. And so I kind of see that once you work with multiple robots, them all working together, you know, that's going to be quite a task. And we have some very smart machine learning people working on this. And yeah, just getting them power and getting them seed or getting the heart the yield back from them. I think that's one of the things that it's kind of holding us up right now. You know, one thing I will say is that one thing we didn't see coming is getting seed in the ground in a no till situation like on a hill, my robots weigh about 180 pounds 200 If you load them down batteries. So a normal conventional planter, you know, takes at least 300 pounds to push down. And so we tried it, we loaded down with weight even and so we've had to think of some different ideas. And so now we're going with a powered Tiller planter that actually is is more or less a disk with with teeth on it. And it spins, I think it's about 240 rpm, and it it cuts a furrow do this ground and then we put seed in it then recovered back up. We just can't press a disk in there like a normal tractor. Good. So this takes up power. It's not ideal. It's not what we're going for. But we try to, to go with the simplest possible design and then kind of if that doesn't work, we kind of work ourselves up to more complex issues, but that's those are the biggest things that we run across right now is you know, you could have robots that when they ran out of juice, they come back, get recharged, and then go back out. But for a bigger field, that kind of becomes an not very good solution.

What we see is the major push backs that you might get from farmers have spent 3035 years using different approaches in the mechanics we expect to have to answer to.

Most of them don't believe that this will work. So yeah, and a lot of them, you know, my dad was same way kind of your link to the land. That's John years phrase, but they see farming as you're on a tractor. You're out on the field, you know, your field.

Bouncing over the phone. Yeah.

But the thing is, a lot of these bigger farmers have five 7000 acres, you know, doing their field? Is it them on the tractor? Can they really see how their crops are doing? And they can, in certain instances, you know, for what, for example, we have this duck shares, we're going on this NRI grant that spots, aphids. And so right now, you know, an entomologist, you call them up, he'll come to us a few places in your field. And say, either, yes, it's bad enough, you need to spray or no need to wait a little while. So either spray the whole field, or you don't spray enough, you know, and it's just issues like that. And so I think the pushback is, is people, you know, Agra culture, it's a culture and so people are kind of back against, that's not farming, you know, that's not sure. And I think, I think I wasn't around when this happened, but talk to my dad, you know, when people went from horses to tractors to this kind of the same tune. Yeah, attitude, same, you know, you're working together with your horse to, to work the land, you know, I read somewhere where, when calves come on tractors, people were like, you know, I want to smell the dirt, I want to smell the earth. And the auto steer, you know, it's not me steering, it's just a computer, how is that farming, you know, it's kind of kind of a fight every time, I do see a lot of the younger farmers just really be a lot more open to technology, a lot more able to do that. One thing is UAVs. Now UAVs exploded into the agriculture market, because, you know, farmers one, they thought oh, not to walk as much I could see my whole field is a huge help. And it wasn't really farming, it was more of a help for farming. And so I think maybe they didn't have to justify that they weren't farming anymore, but they just this is something that helps them. And so one way for us to kind of get in or not us, but you know, robotics to get in is kind of scouting, if we have these scouting vehicles that go out, and it's a lot like you UAVs scout over the top, but they Scout underneath. And it's kind of it's not farming, but it's more of a help to the farmer. And I really think farmers are all about help.

I've talked to an old rancher actually, a few years ago, and we were talking about advances in this and then the other civil kind of give me an example. That well, there was a time when a PTO shaft was very high technology in the forums I was working on. So you know, what's, what's normal, and what's cutting edge continues to evolve. So I think the trick is to be able to survive that first party evolution and get some buy into it.

Yeah, and tractors themselves have become so complicated. And you know, that's a lot of different forces are pushing their emissions and things like that and features but I don't know if how many farmers can actually work on the tractor nowadays, not like we had to. Yeah. So the technology is there. They're just still driving now. So I understand the pushback there. And I probably feel the same way if I was a farmer. Sure. So we're just trying to trying to help you know, we're not gonna, we're not taking over farming. We're just trying to help, you know, help spray aphids help on uphills, you know, get a little more yield. Right.

Now, then you mentioned that you were working with Dr. Wells on some of the activities you're working on. And a minute ago, you talked a bit about working with people on machine learning, what you've got specific activities that you're focused on in building these types of things. What other kinds of expertise within the university do you bring in in helping to solve some of these problems or work through some of the challenges that you're facing?

Who else have I collaborated with?

Yeah, yeah.
One great thing about my job is that I have such good people around me. See, well, Welch is one of them. Brian McCormick entomology. We have a lot of people in engineering. So, Stacey Kulesza. She is in civil engineering. She does a lot of soil sensing for us, Jared Hobeck. In mechanical engineering, he's, we're talking about some ideas with with genetic algorithms for for tillage tools, some we work with Terry Griffin, who is a agricultural economist, yeah. Then we have, you know, the computer scientists, and they do machine learning, genetic algorithms. Lior Shamir, Bill Hsu, Sanjoy Das, he's an electrical engineering. So we will work with most anybody and some, I really enjoyed, I've learned a lot, a lot of things we also have. So our departments, sorry to interrupt you there, our department is we have machinery, which is what I am. And we have environmental and biological. That's three options of our, our department. Now we're all very much different. But it's been really fun to work with, let's say the environmental group, one example. That is they look for blue green algae, how to predict that happening on on lakes, and reservoirs, things. And so we have, we actually just got a grant, we build a kind of a robotic boat that takes sensors at different depths, and trying to get data for them to actually put that together to predict a bloom happening. So that's another fun thing. I'm working with these environmental people, and I get to make robotic boats and things like that. So I really love my job. A lot of fun.

Oh, before we know what this will look like the pollutes of the Midwest, if you can get the hills farmed.

That's right. Weeds everywhere.

Yeah, really.

I remember talking with Steve Wells about that idea about a year ago. And I clearly it's the same thing that you're working on describing exactly what it was you were you were talking about doing an increasing? I mean, basically, what he was explaining to me was, you're increasing the amount of arable land substantially, which makes a lot of sense. Yeah. Interesting.

We have to worry about, you know, erosion and things like that with hills.

And so sure

I'm sure concern. And our robots rolling down the hill uncontrollably. That's another concern.

Do you have any feel for the impact of having worked in the industries you worked in, prior to coming to a university setting? How that how that may be swayed or impacted or affected the job that you're doing now? Or was it just kind of a building block to get where you are?

Ah, yeah, it's had a lot of impact, you know, well, so I worked in several different industries Cessna aircraft, I was just a design engineer for the interiors. And so I learned a lot about how a company works as far as drawings, numbers, you know, engineering changes and getting a drawing released all that dealing with, we did all very custom stuff, interiors for the these people. And so it was good kind of get a sense of organization. So that's kind of what I'm brought to. Sometimes I teach that and then I also right now I'm also a coach for battle bot team, and Junior Senior High battle bot team. And so we use that in the battle bot team and then work in a John Deere, I learned a lot about you know, the, the relevant cut, you know, conventional features of tractor, a lot of customer feedback, a lot of kind of issues that are going on with the tractors nowadays, especially with the missions and things like that so they know more about farming than I do and so they know they have a lot more equipment than I do or or can get hold of, but you know, explaining like for range here, what that means what's going on in that transmission. So that's been really good to take that and then also like I talked about the 2050 kind of cry You know, I really brought that to our department and really have I made a big deal out of it and I got that a John here but so it's been good all that to say it's been a really good experience. I would I would highly recommend, you know, he got me started late here at K State late in my life but I would highly recommend the experience you get from working in industry. And so I would not want to go back to industry. Good experience.

Well, I was wondering, since you just mentioned being back at K State here, something I didn't ask you when you opened up, but want to ask now, so, why so interested in getting to K State? Or you said that was, that was your goal, right? When you went to get your last degree down in Oklahoma, and you left so that you could come back here? So, what are we looking for here? Why, why K State?

Well, it's nothing more complicated than me just loving Manhattan long. I, you know, I came here from undergrad and fell in love with it. I tried to stay tried to get a job here in Manhattan. But at that time, there wasn't anything. I mean, I think McCalls had a factory or something. But there was nothing much. So I like the AG. Ag school. So, and I've always had a I've always loved case study. And I want to be home, I want to be close to home. I did not enjoy being you know, Iowa was too far for me. I didn't mind Oklahoma so much. It was warmer. I like that. But I don't know, I don't know that I don't have a better answer than I just like it here.

It's been a good of an answer. So then. So then let me ask the flip side of the of question about what you brought from industry, which is, what's different about working on kinds of things you're working on now? In a university setting, right, as opposed to what, you know, you mentioned all the startups working on, you know, robotics and agriculture. Right. You know, what, what's the difference between, you know, working on maybe things that are, you know, like this are related to this. So you mentioned that a lot of the companies aren't necessarily going to sort of adopt some of the things that you're talking about right away? Because they're, they're focused on different things. But what's the difference between working on this kind of stuff in a large, you know, large established industry versus a startup business versus university setting? Are you exploring different kinds of questions and the kinds of, or different kinds of, you know, pushing the boundary more and the kinds of robotics you're working on, you ask them different questions, how would you describe the difference?

Well, it's probably different for different people who are different jobs, but my jobs were fairly, very structured. And so you are given tasks to do and maybe a feature to work on, you know, I programmed tractors or thing problems to fix, there was very little creativity that I could put into play. And, you know, we tell our students all the time and worked for a big large company, you work for a small section of that product. And you do it a lot more times, like for a small company, you would kind of be on, you know, designing it, testing it, marketing it, selling it, you know, supporting it, here, you know, a large company work on one little spot, and everybody else handles everything else. And so it, I didn't feel like I had much freedom there to try things, especially creativity wise. So here at K State, so much freedom, you know, and and some people don't like, the, the freedom, some people don't like the lack of structure that you would find in industry and, and so there's so much freedom that I have no one cares when I come to work, no one cares, my leave. But yet I have got a lot of responsibility to get stuff done. And, and that really fit me a lot better than and work in a certain time during the day and really not having the chance to dream and think up new things. And so, this morning, I worked on a new kind of a brad program for our department, that probably never happened. But it is fun for me, and kind of really good for me to think through that. And I like that I like to design, I like the I guess freedom to be creative is the biggest change for me. And it fits me. It's not any better than industry or worse, it just fits me better than the industry did. And so, you know, with a small company, you know, you probably have more freedom, and a little less security, but a little more freedom to, to work on products and things and create.

So how do you think this applies to the future of robotics in agriculture? So what's the are you working with startups or any industry on this? Are there other people who are doing this in this area? And what like, what are the different roles that are being played out by, you know, by the startups and industry and university in research settings of sort of kind of envisioning where we could be going in agriculture and sort of working on particular solutions.

Well, now that we are working with several startups, We're working with big in industry as well. So several of the big industries had their own small robotic projects going on, you know, fence and AGCO, they had the Mars program, I hear that John Deere has one going on, but I can't confirm that. But we work with some small startups, as far as there's a, there's a company and Topeka it, it's working with vineyards. And he's doing some fun stuff there with robotics and spraying. So there are a lot of it's a lot of roles going on, and you know, to kind of rethink what agriculture is with, with a whole new set of tools with, with automation, and small robotics. And I think a lot of these ideas could be taken up and used in startups and things and, and then, you know, it's like the electric car, people are getting more and more used to it. And so I see the same thing happening with agriculture robotics today. Did I answer your question?

Yeah, oh, that's great. Thanks.

The only other question I had, and this may be similar to one that Scott answered, asked him a bit ago, but if you had a way of looking into the future, what comes after this kind of technology? Where is this technology leading agriculture overall, let's assume that it's picked up and it's used, and what's coming next?

So if this was fully adopted and used, it'd be a lot more lobby a lot more probably, farmers at home, keeping track of their robotics swarms, you know, doing robotics, and doing agriculture. One thing that I would love to see is that kind of a robotic farm, you know, for ag for university purposes. We proposed this a while back, it was called case utopia that was kind of, I was very proud of that name. But it was just a piece of land that was fully run by robots and for farming. And I can see, I can kind of imagine a class where we teach a class and data would be coming in off this farm from these robots. And the students would take the data and analyze it and see what needs to be done. And, maybe a student would be in charge of a certain plot of land, you know, to control the robots and, and, and how to do the fertilizer, and when, when to plant and keeping track of the soil. You know, I see that as an amazing teaching tool for students in agriculture, you know, automation. You know, I could also see the downsides where we lose our farmers. And, you know, would that happen when we have big huge corporations that just run robots? I don't think so. I think there's always going to be farmers. Just like, there's always the hobby farmers now, you know, it doesn't make sense for them to be hobby farming, but they are, because they love it. And so not a really good answer for that. I'm sorry. It's

No, it's there was a fine answer. I guess, as I've been listening to you talk over the last period of time, just thinking about the, you know, the potential of multi-cropping in the field, or the potential of improving the environmental impact. It's, and then you you talk just a minute ago about these huge corporate owned farms that may or may not be separate for I mean, that's what I'm looking for opposite of one another and their approach on things, but possibly could be, it's just, it's an interesting, it's an interesting mix of potentials and possibilities that you've been describing that could come out of this. So it's, I'm sure that some of this technology will be picked up, it's just going to be very, very fascinating to see where and how it's used most frequently.

Yeah, I think, you know, I think there's a lot of government regulations coming down the road with, especially with pesticides and herbicides. So I think we're gonna have to get creative with how we keep that yield up, and how we make more yield to meet that 2050.

Now, it's been great, it's fascinating stuff. It's just there, there are so many, there's so much potential, and I'm excited to see what happens, those other effects are dealt with, right? So we've got the positives, but then, you know, there'll be there'll be shifts, there'll be shifts in what's planted, right, you know, there'll be shifts in you know, in labor, right, sort of you were mentioned labor drives, was driving, you know, some of the technology but then technology drives labor changes, too, right. And so like, it's just going to be so many differences. It does feel like I guess actually, this is one of the if you've already said it, I guess feels like a more substantial and some of those other technology changes that you've described. And I wonder, wonder if you think it is just, you know, then the next step in the chain of, you know, technological changes that have, you know, shifted farming, but it's not, you know, hasn't obviously hasn't gone away, right? Or if it is something a little more substantial than what we've seen before.

Does it fall into the disruptive change? Category?

Yeah, I mean, I mean, as far as labor, I mean, we'll go away. You know, we, with robotics, you won't need somebody to drive a skilled labor to drive the tractor, but you will need skilled laborers to run the robotics, right? And keep track of them and service them. And so it's, this has been fascinating.

Thank you so much.

Do you have anything for us, Dan, before we sign off here,

No, good luck, thanks for what you're doing.

Well, I appreciate your time. And thanks, Scott, for coming on. And no, this was great.

Really exciting. Thanks. Thanks.

Thanks a bunch. Bye. Bye bye.

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Our music was adapted from Dr. Wayne Goins’s album Chronicles of Carmela. Special thanks to him for providing that to us. Something to Chew On is produced by the Office of Research Development at Kansas State University.