The fully autonomous, solar-powered Seed-n-Weed robot, FarmDroid, has been announced as the newest member of Opico’s agricultural machinery line-up.
The FarmDroid is the brainchild of two Danish farmers, Jens and Kristian Warming. Capable of precision drilling and weeding, it is a pesticide-free, weed control method, praised for its simplicity and nought fuel bill.
The robot uses ultra-accurate GPS to record the exact placement of each seed when drilling. Subsequently, when weeding, it does not need to identify what is a weed and what is not. With GPS tracking, the FarmDroid knows where the crop plants should be and will work around them.
The FarmDroid has both in-row and inter-row action, to eliminate weeds between rows and between crop plants. It can work to within 5mm of seedlings (between the rows) and 20mm in-row.
The pioneering use of GPS is what sets the FarmDroid apart from previous weeding robots. Earlier machines have employed high-definition cameras and complex computers to identify and target weeds, while the FarmDroid more simply uses the GPS system.
Fuelled by solar power, the FarmDroid robot is helping farming to reach its net zero aims (and herbicide-free crop production). It also only weighs 800kg, which is greatly beneficial for soil health.
Opico has said that organic growers across Northern Europe and the UK are reporting a 40-60% increase in beet yields when using the FarmDroid over tractor-hoed crops. This is because of the robot’s precise seed placement and intra-row weed control, which allows for uniform crop development.
The current six-row FarmDroid FD20 retails for £59,500, with an additional £4,243 required for an RTK base station. However, Opico believe that grant funding will be available to assist with the purchase of a FarmDroid.
For more information go to www.opico.co.uk