Researchers from Harper Adams University and Precision Decisions in the United Kingdom have just announced that they have successfully planted, grown and harvested crop using nothing other than robot tractors and drones.
While automated farming is not a new concept, having had GPS steering in the past, this experiment, entitled ‘Hands-Free Hectare’, took it to the next level. Previously, it was almost unheard of to have no one step into the paddock to grow the entire crop and yet these researchers were able to reach their goal in doing so.
How this process works is that the team has been using an autonomous tractor which uses GPS positioning to spray crops. Then using small rovers, they are able to take soil samples. After this stage, they are able to continually monitor the crops by taking images using drones. Watch how to process works in the video below.
While the team have proven that this can be achieved successfully they still aim to improve the accuracy of their technology with the hopes of greater funding. Martin Abell, mechatronics researcher for Precision Decisions said “Now we’re returning, thanks to funding from the AHDB and the continued support from our industry sponsors, to try and increase the yield through increased accuracy of our machinery and improved remote agronomy. We’re trying to push for a more competitive yield compared to what you see on the AHDB recommended lists and all other trials data available.”