With a week to digest the global buffet of equipment, technology and agricultural trends on display at the SIMA Agribusiness Show in Paris, France, I particularly enjoyed visiting with some of the young innovators showcasing progressive products.

The overall theme of the show was “Being a Farmer in 10 Years” which could be viewed as a challenge for manufacturers as much as a forecast for the future. For those students, inventors and start-up companies exhibiting their inventions — attending the show was an opportunity.

Talking with the head of robotics and control from the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, he and a student were roaming the concourse with Thorvald, a compact remote control robot designed for repetitive field operations. Weighing a little more than 400 pounds, it has the appearance of a mini-transformer, but was also described as a “Lego system for agriculture.”

Thorvald turned a few heads, but among the more traditional tractors, planters, tillage implements and sprayers populating SIMA’s 7 exhibition halls, the technology is understandably seen as a tool whose time has yet to come.

The same could be said for some of the other inventions — an exoskeleton apparatus designed to transport parts or bushels — that may one day be part of everyday farming.

But is 10 years a realistic timeframe? Most SIMA attendees (company representatives, farmers and researchers) say the transformation will be gradual and to expect an overnight overhaul of how farmers operate is aggressive thinking.

Still, think back even 5 years at some of the seemingly futuristic systems that debuted at agricultural shows. Today, some of those are essential parts of a farmer’s operation.