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Harvesting Robotics: A solution to farm labour?

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If you have worked and lived on the farm you will agree that farm labour is one of the key inputs and cost center in the farming system. In most countries farm labour is controlled, that is their condition of service and earnings.

Can technology halve or eliminate labour costs? As l was reading the blog by AgFunder News, which noted that harvesting robotics market is on the rise and to reach US$5.5 bn. The reality is that despite the rising cost of labour amidst unpredictability in farm profitability, farm robotics is still immature.

Another factor is that while many farming aspects have been automated, not the whole farming chain has been and some processes still need the benefit of humans.

There are some few start-up companies that are investing on harvesting robotics. For example, Researchers in Shropshire (Hands Free Hectare) modified a tractor and combine harvester with cameras, lasers and GPS. In this instance, the technology doesn’t always work 100%, for example tractor failed to keep a straight line in the field. Yet in the future it seems inevitable that automation’s role in farming will grow in the future.

Another area where robotics have been applied in agriculture is in the harvest of strawberry by companies such as Agrobot and Harvest Croo. Review the respective videos here

Agrobot Strawberry Harvester Harvest Croo Robotic Harvester
Video credit : AGROBOT Video Credit: Harvest Croo

So far it seems that harvesting robotics have been successfully tried in horticultural sector. Also in greenhouse urban agriculture some robots are being tested. In the AgFunder news, they noted that 3% of growers are currently using robotic harvesting using independent products or prototypes.

More information here 

If you have any examples of how robots are used in agriculture comment on this news item