Robots to play increasing role in farming

Robots will be playing an increasing role in farming within the five years, giving producers access to greater intelligence in the process, says Australian robotics specialist Professor Salah Sukkarieh.

Keynote speaker at AHDB’s Smart Agriculture Conference, held at Birmingham this week, Prof Sukkarieh (pictured above), highlighted how smart technologies were already being used in agricultural practices across Australia, and that developments from other industries offered valuable applications for farmers.

“We’re already seeing intelligent software systems for autonomous decision making in commercial aviation, stevedoring, mining and environmental management,” he said, adding that the extension of such developments into agriculture would require ‘multiple disciplines to come together to explore innovations and develop applications’ for the future benefit of food and farming.

The robotics event, which was a first for AHDB, was designed to bring together academics and experts working across data, sensors and application to examine how to use innovations from other industries and disciplines to boost, improve and facilitate agriculture.

AHDB chairman, Peter Kendall, opening the conference, said that he felt passionately that “AHDB had a central role to play in bringing together experts from a broad brush of specialisms to address and meet the needs of a rapidly changing industry.”

He went on to warn, however, that this approach wouldn’t work in isolation.

“Smart agriculture is where it all begins, exploring all avenues, possibilities and innovations in order for British agriculture to be as productive and as efficient it can be in order to compete with the rest of the world,” he said.

Conference delegates were also given presentations ranging from quantum imaging, informatics and metrics, to emergent computing and robotics.

“Farming is on the cusp of an agricultural revolution,” said Mr Kendall. “Growing and rearing food is already becoming more reliant on precision technologies and farmers will increasingly use technology for every step of the production process.”

See more conference details and presentations

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