Will this robot be part of the future of organics?

Farmdroid is one of the latest robots to hit the farming world and it’s an impressive machine. Powered by solar panels it can sow and weed crops.

The robot uses GPS technology to navigate its way around fields and till the area of soil between plants. It has the potential to significantly reduce manual labour on organic farms where hoeing and hand weeding crops is essential.

This season the machine was used to sow and weed sugar beet in Europe, but it has potential for use on crops like beetroot and onions as well.

Daniel and David Vetterli are using the field robot in Switzerland. Approximately 100 hours of manual labour are required to hoe 2ha of sugar beet. The Farmdroid can hoe a 2ha field in 10 hours.

Looking at things on a larger scale and it would take the robot one week to plant a 20ha field of sugar beet. Once sowing is finished on those 20ha weeding would then need to start straight away.

The robot sends text messages to the farmer if a problem arises and also has batteries which keep the power going at night time or on a cloudy day.

The video below shows the Farmdroid FD20 in action. As the EU Farm to Fork Strategy looks towards the reduction of pesticide use and a push towards organic production there may be more robots making an appearance across Europe, but this will no doubt take time.

At present, a Farmdroid FD20 costs in the region of €75,000. Cost and scale will be two factors affecting the use of this technology on farms.