Thursday, November 26, 2020

Robots go to work mapping weeds on farm this autumn

February 28, 2020 by  
Filed under News & Business

Weed-mapping robots which promise to improve farm productivity by reducing pesticide applications will go into commercial production later this year.

The first fleet of 10 “Tom” robots from the Small Robot Company will be manufactured by Northumberland-based Tharsus, the UK advanced machine and robots designer. They will be ready for commercial service on UK farms this October.

The robots map the location of individual weeds within fields using a sophisticated monitoring system. Other benefits from the mapping service include improved yield predictions and measurement of herbicide efficacy.

Promising results

Customers include Waitrose and the National Trust, which is looking to expand its use of robots across its farms. Early field trials are already underway in 20 farms. They include the National Trust’s Wimpole Estate, Cambridgeshire; and the Waitrose Leckford Estate, Hampshire.

It is expected that the robots will have mapped some 2000ha by January 2021. When fully up and running, other robots will then move into the field to zap the weeds – killing them using a non-chemical electrical service. That service will follow from autumn 2021.

The overall aim is to maximise food production while reducing its cost on the environment. Using robotics and artificial intelligence, it has created an entirely new model for ecologically harmonious, efficient and profitable farming.

Small Robot Company co-founder Sam Watson Jones said: “The global opportunity is huge. This is a fourth agricultural revolution, and British technology is leading the charge. We’re currently first to market, so it’s absolutely crucial that we get our commercial delivery right.”

Huge opportunity

Each Tom robot will cover 20ha per day autonomously, collecting about six terabytes of data. They can distinguish plant details at submillimetre resolution, with less than one millimetre per pixel resolution on the ground, with a 5K camera capacity and extended battery life.

Mr Watson Jones said: “The global opportunity is huge. This is a fourth agricultural revolution, and British technology is leading the charge. We’re currently first to market, so it’s absolutely crucial that we get our commercial delivery right.”

The company has received more than £1m funding from the government’s Innovate UK grant programme. This included an £800,000 grant for its artificial intelligence weed recognition and Tom weed mapping technology.

Calum Murray, Innovate UK’s head of agriculture, said it had the potential to transform UK food production. “This innovative technology will allow farmers for the first time ever to use non-chemical precision robotic weeding for cereal, whilst saving energy and reducing costs.”

Speak Your Mind

Tell us what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!

 
barbour pas cher barbour pas cher barbour pas cher barbour pas cher barbour pas cher golden goose saldi golden goose saldi golden goose saldi golden goose saldi golden goose saldi doudoune moncler pas cher doudoune moncler pas cher doudoune moncler pas cher doudoune moncler pas cher doudoune moncler pas cher moncler outlet online moncler outlet online moncler outlet online moncler outlet online moncler outlet online