Smart farming, precision agriculture and Agriculture 4.0

6th July 2020
Posted By : Lanna Deamer
Smart farming, precision agriculture and Agriculture 4.0

Smart farming, precision agriculture and Agriculture 4.0 involve the integration of advanced technologies into existing farming architecture to increase production efficiency and product quality, as well as reducing overall costs. Inclusion of Smart technologies into Irish agriculture is inevitable with increased pressure placed on farming practices to remain profitable, as well as adhere to environmental regulation.

By Martin Leahy, maxon Sales Engineer for Ireland

The global Smart Agriculture Solution Market stood at a revenue of around $10.2bn in 2016 and is projected to reach a valuation of $38.1bn by the end of 2024. Growing adoption of advanced technology in farming, from agricultural drones, precision seeding systems, auto-steering, automatic feeding systems to fruit picking robots, have incentivised traditional agri-companies to invest in smart agriculture solutions.

The deployment of advanced agri-tech has the potential to allow for increased focus on non-profitable tasks, such as farm maintenance and environmental practices. The reduction of heavy labour and tedious tasks can also lead to improvements in the health and work-life balance of a farmer. 

DC motors are a vital component for many agriculture applications, offering the most efficient form of motion, particularly when solar and battery power is utilised. maxon drives are relied on even under the most challenging conditions - for example, they have been in use on Mars for years. maxon DC motors not only do their job in space, but they also function in tough agricultural conditions flawlessly and efficiently.

maxon systems, consisting of motors, gearheads, sensors, batteries and controllers, constitute the basic building blocks for complex applications. Our mobile apps include cloud connectivity and give our customers access to a range of functions, including retrieval of current driving data and positions, customisation of parameters and fleet management. All components are verified by our specialists and then perfectly matched to each other. This allows us to offer a system solution from a single source.


The Vitirover robot is developed by the company of the same name, in Saint-Emilion France. The fully autonomous lawnmower, powered by solar energy, eliminates grass and weeds between the vines in a vineyard, eliminating the need for costly pesticides. To enable the robots to navigate hilly terrain, the developers took some cues from maxons experience with the Mars rovers.

The maxon wheel drive is a compact solution for Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) and self-driving vehicles in intralogistics and outdoor applications. The AGV wheel drive is designed for very high radial loads and the compact design allows for use with standard maxon flat motors.

The maxon EC Flat brushless motor family offer an attractive combination of high performance and a low price. If a customer wants to fully integrate a device and take care of the shaft and bearing, there is the possibility to use a maxon EC flat frameless motor.

maxon recently released the IDX range of integrated drives. The compact brushless EC-i motor combined with an EPOS4 positioning controller, delivers a highly dynamic, powerful drive package with Field-Oriented Control (FOC), high efficiency and maintenance-free components in a high quality industrial housing. The maxon IDX drives are suitable for use across the entire speed range (from standstill to maximum speed) and have an extremely high overload capability.

Together with a positioning controller, the integrated sensor (single turn) enables absolute positioning. The high quality design complies with the IP 65 protection class. Compact drives drastically reduce the amount of cabling and as a result, the design complexity. IDX applications include autonomous unmanned vehicles, robotic scrapers, automatic feeders and fruit picking robots, as well as production machines with X-, Y- and Z-axis movements.


The agricultural drone market is anticipated to grow more than 38% over the forecast period 2017-2025. Agricultural drones serve two main purposes. One is to capture aerial imagery and provide real time data on crop health and herd health. The second is for spraying capabilities. Drones have the potential to improve chemical spraying efficiency. Selective spraying techniques require fewer chemicals (environmental and economic benefits) and can lead to a reduction in water consumption.

maxon has a dedicated Aerospace Business Unit that has developed a platform for fulfilling the needs of the emerging drone market. The platform includes dedicated drone motors (EC flat, sensorless,), batteries (lightweight) and controllers (sensorless, currents up to 100A). maxon drone motors are characterised by:

  • Outer runner motor, segmented magnets
  • Sensorless, direct wiring (no PCB) High-temp winding and aviation-grade aluminium
  • Optimised cooling
  • Bearing system for long lifetime
  • Maintenance-free
  • Maximum environmental protection
  • Weight optimised

Our motivated R&D team love challenging projects and close interaction with customers. If the combination of standard products does not suffice, maxon develop custom designs. These can either be product modifications or new developments. Over 8% of total revenue flows into R&D, where more than 200 employees work. These departments are responsible for the ongoing improvement of manufacturing processes and production as well as testing novel systems.

The motor shown in the picture below was developed by maxon. It demonstrates maxons flexibility to meet customer demands and is specifically designed for the agriculture industry. The new IP67 12V and 24V DC motors have an incremental encoder built inside the motor body. Future versions will also have the option of power activated or power de-activated holding brakes. This unit has a robust sealed enclosure for operation in harsh agri-environments.

Whether you are designing the latest Agri-bot, motorised hand tool or precision seeder, the maxon online shop allows customers to configure and order their precision drives easily. If you have something you need to drive, we are here to help. No matter how specific your requirements are, maxon specialists are on standby, ready to offer support when additional information is required.

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