26 May 2015 | Online since 2003



Farming with lazers and drones


Real-time crop data from the skies, microdot spraying at 1% of current pesticide costs and weeding with lazers - lazy rural idylls were thoroughly booted into touch when Prof Simon Blackmore presented his ‘vision of farming with robots’ this afternoon.

The Harper Adams agri-engineer was asked to talk about 2050, when an estimated 9bn mouths to feed worldwide will require innovative approaches to produce more, with less waste, while using fewer inputs.

His technological highlights included a dot lazer weeding robot, currently in development at Harper, and an autonomous sprayer - again a present prospect rather than farming future - which differentiates between weeds and crops and applies chemical only to weed leaves, saving “99.9% of product by volume”.

Then there was a selective crop harvester, which harvests to buyer specifications.

“Up to 60% of crops is not of saleable quality - so why harvest it? Crop robots might also mean we can keep value on the farm - grading, packing and sorting all at the point of harvest.”

The professor stressed that much of the sensor technology and computing power was already a reality. He said: “All of these concepts have been researched and developed, but not many are available through what the machinery manufacturers say is ‘lack of demand’ How long will it take for UK farmers to take advantage of these new opportunities?

Prof Blackmore said: “Is big always good? We’ve currently got huge problems with compaction. Up to 90% of energy going into cultivation is to repair damage caused by machines.”

He added that computer route planning of tractor paths could help. “Up to 96% of field compaction is caused by random traffic paths,” he said, before questioning the need to cultivate topsoil in its entirety.

“We can get right down to individual plant level and individual plant care,” he suggested.

Download




Comments


No comments posted yet. Be the first to post a comment

To post comment without approval login or register

Display name

Please enter your name

Email (optional)
Comment

Please enter your comment

Post Comment

Your comment submitted successfully.Please wait for admin approval.

Some error on your process.Please try one more time.



Jobs


15 May 2015
Senior Infrastructure Analyst, Central Leeds
The companies applications sit on SQL databases and it is preferred that you have experience of SQL and be confident with clu...

13 May 2015
Horse and Livestock Instructor/Technician
An exciting opportunity has arisen for an experienced equine instructor/technician who also has some experience with farm liv...

11 May 2015
Rural Manager
Knowledge of rural estate management gained through a Level 4 qualification such as NVQ/HND in Agriculture, Forestry, Protect...

19 May 2015
Feed Mill Operative
Oakland Farms Ltd require a Feed Mill Operative to work in their Poultry feed mill near York. Good wages and prospects for a ...

5 May 2015
ELECTRICAL TECHNICIAN - Aberdeen, UK
This Electrical Technician role will involve servicing and maintenance of Turbines in Wind Farms around the Aberdeen, UK. Abo...



Top stories you may have missed
15 May 2015 | Arable

Scotland’s Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead is calling on the Europ...


15 May 2015 | Finance

As the country settles down following the turmoil of the general election, ...


14 May 2015 | Animal Health

New research from the Universities of Bristol and Cambridge has found that ...


13 May 2015 | Animal Health

A new publication to help farmers prevent sheep lameness and offer advice o...


12 May 2015 | Agri Safety

The Farmers’ Union of Wales is putting the spotlight on Liver fluke at next...


5 May 2015 | News

The UK is now third in the global rankings for utility-scale solar energy a...


29 April 2015 | Agri Safety

A recent Rural Watch demonstration and information event gave Farmers’ Unio...


24 April 2015 | Meat Processing

Retailers should confirm their commitments to sourcing UK lamb this season,...


15 April 2015 | Meat Processing

A leading retailer has apologised after selling imported lamb in a Borders ...


9 April 2015 | Finance

The time has come for landlords to expect to see reductions in farm rents, ...