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Ground-breaking drone work to be demonstrated by Harper Adams researcher at this year’s Cereals show

Posted 7 June

A man in a gilet, shirt and sunglasses leans on a fence next to an Autospray R150 robot while he is interviewed by another man in a hi-viz jacket.

Ground-breaking work carried out by drones and autonomous vehicles which could transform modern agriculture will be demonstrated by a Harper Adams researcher at this year’s Cereals show.

Working alongside cutting- edge firms providing the latest technology, Jonathan Gill, Mechatronics & UAV Researcher at Harper Adams, will be among those showing how the latest autonomous drone and robot equipment available to the arable farmer can be used to revolutionise a range of tasks.

Jonathan, who will be HAU’s pilot for the twice-daily demonstrations, has been a keen advocate of the use of the systems in agriculture – through both practical autonomous agriculture on Harper Adams University’s unique Hands-Free Farm and via discussions with leading opinion formers and policy makers who are examining how technology and farming will intersect in the future.

As part of this latter work, Jonathan spoke to MPs and Peers in the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Science and Technology in Agriculture earlier this year – explaining some of the regulatory changes needed to tap the full potential of autonomous agriculture.

Since that appearance, he has held follow-up meetings with opinion formers to help shape their thinking about the coming decade – and he believes new technology, such as that being demonstrated at Cereals, will prove to be vital.

Jonathan said: “We want to show the potential that this technology has and some of the ways it can change agriculture.

“We can do absolutely amazing things autonomously, and we want to get people thinking about the ways they can use this technology to transform their work in the years to come.”

The Drone Zone’s Scout, Seed & Feed: Cover Cropping with Zero Carbon demonstrations, being held in the main Syngenta Sprays & Sprayers Arena, will show the latest ways in which drones and robots can assist farmers throughout a crop cycle. Technology will on display from Harper Adams University, Autospray Systems, Drone AG and the British Drone Consortium in each demonstration.

Practical applications being shown will include mini drones undertaking autonomous scouting, accurate seed spreading then carried out by other drones - and a ground-based robot, the Autospray R150, showing how the sown seed can be fertilised.

Jonathan said: “This will the first demonstration of its kind in the UK, with the best and newest technology – such as the drone I will be flying from XAG, the V40 – the only one of its kind outside China.

 “As well as the four demonstrations, we will also be available on site for people to talk to throughout Cereals – so if they have a question, or want to come along and chat to an expert about what this technology can do, we will be on hand.”

Harper Adams University Shows and Events officer Sarah Swinnerton added: “We’re delighted to be taking part in this event.

“Cutting-edge research such as that Jonathan undertakes at Harper Adams, combined with the latest technology, will transform farming. This work is already grabbing attention across the world – and these demonstrations will be a great chance to see it up close and get expert opinion from some of the key figures making it happen.”

To see more about the Drone Zone at Cereals – at Boothby Graffoe, Licolnshire, on Weds 30 June and Thurs 1 July, click here  and for more about the work on Harper Adams University’s Hands Free Farm, visit the Hands Free Farm website.

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