13 June 2019
Harper Adams’ Professor James Lowenberg-DeBoer has been discussing the economics for ag robotics and how projects like Hands Free Hectare are changing the face, and cost, of farming across the world.
The agricultural industry is in transition and that transition differs country by country, state by state, region by region as well as by type of farming practiced: from primitive to conventional to precision to experimental. Prof. Lowenberg-DeBoer opened by emphasising the industry change that will likely occur with the wide scale adoption of automated precision farming technology, considered by many to be the fourth agricultural revolution.
He said: “This is a change equivalent to when agriculture moved from using horses and oxen to using machinery. But precision ag technology is filtering down to small farms as long as they’re mechanised.”
One key message from the talk was that a little bit of everything is going on everywhere but the general trend worldwide is toward precision agriculture supplemented by advanced technologies including robotics. So while we might be seeing human driven machinery for a few years to come, automated precision farming technology will soon become a familiar sight. Prof. Lowenberg-DeBoer’s talk also covered various aspects of the day to day running of drones and the most effective robotic solutions currently available as well as the challenges moving forward.
After leaving the stage Prof. Lowenberg-DeBoer elaborated his main takeaway message to a group of Cereals visitors that wanted to know more, stating: “Robotic agriculture will change the economies of farming at a scale that will change how farms are run, the size of farms and, significantly, how the actual work gets done.”
The Hands Free Hectare team were also attending Cereals 2019, demonstrating their tractor’s safety features and outlining their plans for the project’s expansion in the Hands Free Farm.