Does the answer to future of farming lie with Robot farmers?


Does the answer to future of farming lie with Robot farmers?

Tiny automated machines could soon take care of the entire growing process

(Source: The Guardian)

The Guardian reports that in the rural Hampshire, a robot called Rachel is pootling around an overgrown field. Rachel has four USB ports, a disc-like GPS receiver and the nuts and bolts of a system called Lidar, through which she can move and orient herself using laser beams.

As she moves she is taking close-up photograph of the plants and soils around her which is sent to a central database. The data she collects will be used into a forensic map of the field and the wider farm beyond. Rachel was designed by the Small Robot Company.

Robots in the farn

This is a prototype test of robots usage in farming activities, specifically in mapping the land, planting seeds, caring for the crop, forensically weeding and then harvesting. According to the report, while the Small Robot Company thought that farmers were going to repel this idea, nevertheless they are warming up to the idea.

What does it mean if farmers adopt this idea? Will it end their dependence on a ploughing process, will the elimination of huge tractors stop the soil compaction? Proponents of the use of robotic farming are offering the following advantages:

  • By tendering the crops at the individual plant level promises a drop of money spent on pesticides.
  • A possible increase in arable farming revenues
  • More people can be drawn into farming , such as independent shops and restaurants can ran small backyard farms
  • A positive multiplier effect on improved climate friendly practices, less pesticides contaminating rivers and less soil erosion, etc

Robots have been on trial and use in other aspects of agriculture, such as robots in milking cows, robotic systems in feeding chickens and pigs. In the US for example, robots are also harvesting lettuces and strawberries. In France they are pruning grapevines and weeding as well as cultivation.

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