4.4 Social and environmental impact of robotics and autonomous systems in farming

Lead Workshop covenor

Professor Peter Kettlewell
Harper Adams University
pskettlewell@harper-adams.ac.uk

Other Covenors

Dr John Reade, Harper Adams University
jreade@harper-adams.ac.uk

Abstract

This workshop will consider the rarely-studied social and environmental impact of robotic and autonomous systems across a wide range of global farming systems. It aims to identify the common themes, opportunities and challenges.

Description

The new technologies of robotics and autonomous systems (RAS) are beginning to revolutionise our society, driven largely by the demand for labour cost reduction, and farming is no exception. Adopting new technologies often carries risks of unforeseen social and environmental changes which may create problems entailing costly solutions. Although there has been some preliminary consideration of the risks to some areas of society from social impacts (e.g. Royal Academy of Engineering, 2009), no comprehensive studies have been conducted for farming.

This IFSA workshop will consider social and environmental risks of RAS in major farming systems and the morning session will give delegates an opportunity to learn about some of the current and possible future developments in RAS for farming. In the afternoon session there will be a chance to hear about the relevant risk governance issues in other recent technology advances, and to contribute to discussion of the wider impacts and risks of RAS in different farming systems.

Workshop Processes

A one-day workshop at Harper Adams University (UK) Thursday 14 July 2016 as part of the International Farming Systems Association Symposium

0900 – 0905 Chair’s introduction – Professor Peter Kettlewell, Research Co-ordinator, Harper Adams University

0905 – 0950 Keynote presentation (35 mins+10 mins for Q&A) from Professor Simon Blackmore (Director of the UK National Centre for Precision Farming at Harper Adams University) on ‘The potential for robotics and autonomous systems to transform global farming practices’

1000 – 1100 Visit demonstrations of robotics and autonomous systems in Agricultural Engineering Innovation Centre, to include: drones, orchard robot, precision livestock farming, controlled traffic farming.

1100 – 1130 refreshments

1130 – 1230 continue demonstrations of RAS in Agricultural Engineering Innovation Centre

1230 - 1330 lunch and poster session with poster authors in attendance

1330 – 1335 Chair’s introduction – Professor Peter Kettlewell, Research Co-ordinator, Harper Adams University

1335 – 1420 Keynote presentation (35 mins+10 mins for Q&A) from Professor Phil Macnaghten (University of Wageningen, The Netherlands) on 'A framework for responsible innovation - lessons learned from GM crops and other technological innovations'

1420 – 1520 Four breakout groups each to discuss one major farming system: large-scale agricultural commodity crop production, protected horticulture and plantation crop production, extensive rangeland livestock grazing, intensive housed livestock. A Group Leader will be nominated to guide discussion and collate the outcomes. All groups to consider the question: What are the social and environmental consequences of adopting RAS in this farming system?

1520 – 1550 afternoon refreshments

1550 – 1650 Feedback from Group Leaders, and identification of common themes, opportunities and challenges. May include discussion of possible applicability to EU Horizon 2020 calls.