Robs4Crops Wraps Up 2023 With Successful Pilots and Agricultural Robotics

As the year ends, Robs4Crops celebrates a year of significant achievements in reshaping agriculture with robotics implementing large-scale pilots. With labor costs on the rise and scarcity intensified by the ongoing pandemic challenges, the need for innovative solutions has become more apparent than ever.

The EU-funded project, Robs4Crops, stands at the forefront, dedicated to revolutionizing traditional farming practices. The project aims to introduce a fully autonomous robotic system for spraying and mechanical weeding, alongside a comprehensive supporting ecosystem, poised for widespread adoption. Featuring smart implements, autonomous vehicles, and high- level software for planning and scheduling, this innovative system will help farmers reduce labour requirements and reduce cost.

Throughout 2023, Robs4Crops demonstrated the potential of robotic farming through extensive large-scale pilots conducted across four European countries: the Netherlands, France, Spain, and Greece. Each pilot represents a collaborative effort between farmers, engineers, and scientists, working synergistically to integrate robotic spraying and weeding into practical farming methodologies.

Highlights from the Pilots

The Dutch Pilot:

In the Netherlands, the pilot transformed arable farming by innovating weeding for slow-growing crops using advanced technology like the Robotti robot, Precision Seeder, Tine-Weeder, and Row-Steered Hoeing Machine. Despite weather challenges, the team pioneers environmentally conscious agriculture. In 2022, they focused on a 1-hectare pumpkin plot; in 2023, they expanded to a 3-hectare sugar beet field. Despite the dry season’s challenges, the pilot is dedicated to sustainable farming, aiming to replace chemical weed control with autonomous mechanical weeding when possible.

The French Pilot:

Addressing environmental concerns in vineyards, the French pilot embraced two CEOL robots specifically designed for vineyard maintenance. Through meticulous integration of smart implements and sensors, the pilot successfully conducted 26 weeding passes on 5 fields in 2023, overcoming hurdles via repairs, system updates, and close monitoring.

The Spanish Pilot:

Focusing on apple orchard spraying, the Spanish pilot utilizes innovative technology such as retrofitted tractors and autonomous sprayers. The team successfully sprayed 2 plots: one with 12 hectares of old trees (Gala variety) and another with 10 hectares of young trees (Granny variety).

The Greek Pilot:

In 2023, the Greek pilot team tested autonomous and traditional spraying methods in a 0.46-hectare field, overcoming challenges in perfecting the Perception Unit, handling delays, technical issues, speed control, and human supervision. Despite weather challenges, the team organized a successful demo at Pegasus facilities, engaging 46 stakeholders, including vineyard owners, agronomists, councillors, and students.

About Robs4Crops

Robs4Crops is a pioneering project funded by the European Union, striving to revolutionize European agriculture through the implementation of autonomous robotic systems for farming practices. The project aims to reduce labor dependency, decrease costs, and enhance sustainability in agriculture by harnessing cutting-edge technology and collaborative expertise.

The Robs4Crops project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 101016807. All information is available on the project website, as well as on social media channels: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Youtube.