August 28th Posted In Machine Technology

Robotics for Smaller Producers

Even though robotics is an integral part of farming’s future, attention still needs to be paid to how these systems can be accessible to small-scale farmers further down the chain. With this in mind, which solutions might be adopted to improve obtainability?

Undoubtedly, robotics will be much more difficult for the smaller producer, purely and simply on economic grounds. Those small, very intensive units producing a high value product may be able to justify the capital investment. For instance, farmers cultivating higher-end, artisan products might have the financial resources and investment to buy into robotic systems, but for producers growing crops on a small-scale farm, until unit prices for robotic systems drop significantly the resource costs involved will probably significantly outweigh any benefits derived.

Whilst there will be a need for all farmers to robotise production systems in order to assure future sustainability, smaller producers will require support and incentivisation, whether that be through government or larger farming bodies. If robotics is to improve the general health of our planet, shouldn’t its implementation be a priority for all farming organisations across the chain?

Should robotics become part of farming’s future, then the benefits will be incredibly worthwhile. Possible opportunities that robotics will offer to smaller producers include:

  • Robotic packaging units to maximise production efficiency.
  • Automatic feeding systems, which are arguably more thorough and traceable than human labour.
  • Rigorous data collection which will allow farmers improved accessibility and visibility of production. The challenge here, however, is to ensure the system programming can be integrated and understood clearly, so that no time or cost is compromised. If so, then robotics will be able to assimilate data on behalf of people, reducing labour costs.

In order for robotics to become affordable for smaller producers, large and medium farming organisations must buy into them to balance the supply with the demand. Currently in UK farming, robotics is seen as an oddity rather than a commodity, an eccentric piece of farm-wear as opposed to something which will truly revolutionise the nation’s food production. It’s an undeniable fact that improving obtainability across the industry will ensure both large and small scale producers can reap robotics’ benefits.