Stockholm / SE. (lg) Robots that fertilize, sow or harvest, that can minimize the use of crop protection, herd animals and that can work efficiently around the clock are part of the future of agriculture. Around the world, self-propelled machines are developing rapidly and will transform agriculture. Now Lantmännen, in collaboration with RISE and Agrointelli, will test Robotti, a self-propelled robot, in the Swedish fields.
In mid-June, trials with Robotti will start in Uppsala, beginning with autonomous seedbed preparation and sowing of malting barley. Other field operations will then be tested with the robot, including mechanical weeding. The ambition is then to make beer from the barley. The trials are being carried out in collaboration with RISE Digital Testbed for Agriculture and Danish Agrointelli, with funding from the Lantmännen Research Foundation. The aim of the trials is to build knowledge and gather experience on autonomous machines in agriculture.
«It will be very exciting to test Robotti and see how autonomous machines can contribute to a more efficient and sustainable agriculture. A more autonomous and data-driven agriculture is a given for the future. We have already come a long way in terms of data collection via connected tools, great strides have been made in precision farming and new apps and services for agriculture are constantly being developed,» says Johan Wågstam, Technology and Digital Developer at Lantmännen.
There are clear advantages to self-driving robots. For the farmer, costs are reduced through efficiency gains and optimisation of the amount of inputs. For the climate and the environment, the robot can reduce the risk of soil compaction due to being a lighter machine, fuel consumption can be reduced with the robot’s GPS driving and thus also greenhouse gas emissions, and optimised fertilisation via the robot reduces the risk of nutrient leakage. In the near future, the robot will use fully renewable fuels, and in the longer term work is underway to see how electric power and autonomous control can be linked to further reduce climate impact and increase farm self-sufficiency in fuels.
«New technologies, like this robot, will be part of the farmer’s machinery going forward and contribute to a more sustainable, climate-smart and profitable agriculture. In this project, we will investigate how far we can go with today’s technology, and that is what we will now follow and measure on the test bed,» says Jonas Engström, researcher and project manager for the test bed at RISE.
A self-driving robot on the farm is not too far in the future. Much of the technology that can contribute to increased yields and reduced impact on climate and the environment already exists today, but needs to be made more accessible and implemented more widely. Profitable agricultural companies willing to invest are a prerequisite for the digital transition, so commercial forces play a crucial role in creating a more efficient and even more sustainable Swedish agriculture.
Other actors participating in the RISE Digital Testbed for Agriculture: SLU, Ericsson, Telia, Volvo Penta, SMHI, Swedish Board of Agriculture, LRF, Region Uppsala, Uppsala Municipality, Dataväxt, Yara, Bayer, LRF Konsult, Intellolabs, Deep Forestry, Solvi and Ecoloop.