comment on this article

British ‘agri-tech’ start-up launches Indiegogo campaign to "transform" farming

Credit: Small Robot Company

Small Robot Company, a British ‘agri-tech’ start-up for sustainable farming has launched its Indiegogo campaign to fund its digital planting robot ‘Harry’.

According to Small Robot Company, its arable farming robots, Tom, Dick and Harry, will enable farmers to be kinder to soil, kinder to the environment, more efficient, more precise and more productive. It adds it will also reduce chemical usage and cultivation energy in arable farming by up to 95%.

The Small Robot Company is seeking £50,000 backing on Indiegogo to commercialise Harry, which recently won a Horizontal Innovation Award from the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) and the High Value Manufacturing Catapult (HVMC) to develop the prototype technology.

However, additional funding is needed to accelerate development in order to hold commercial trials this growing season in October 2018.

The company says Harry will accurately place seed individually in the ground at a uniform depth to within 2cm accuracy, creating a plant level map showing the location of each seed. By punch-planting rather than ploughing, Harry should also reduce soil run off and associated water pollution.

“We want to revolutionise the way that technology is used to create food, reducing its terrible cost on the environment,” says Co-Founder, Ben Scott-Robinson. “Current arable farming methods, in particular ploughing and blanket spraying, are extremely harmful to the environment. Unfortunately, if you treat the whole field the same, overuse of chemicals is inevitable. We are transforming farming with robots and artificial intelligence.”

Small Robot Company’s robots work alongside artificial intelligent (AI) ‘nervous system’, Wilma, to ‘digitise the field’ and provide a granular digital view of the farm. The robots will only feed and spray the plants that need it, giving them the “perfect”levels nutrients and support, with no waste.

According to the Small Robot Company, its precision farming technology allows a level of autonomy, accuracy and detail that makes it possible to provide precise care on a per plant basis, and for 10 times better decision making. It will take in the sum of all farming knowledge, including agronomy, soil science and market conditions, coupled with aggregated big data from all farms across the country, and apply it to the information gathered about the crop.

The idea is that, eventually, each process - from knowing when to plant, to all aspects of crop care, to knowing when to harvest - will be automated.

“Our vision is to automate and digitise arable crop farming,” says co-founder Sam Watson Jones. “Farming is arguably the last analogue industry. The potential for efficiency here is phenomenal, and the environmental benefits this then bestows are immense. Simply put, it's the ability to apply permaculture techniques at scale. It’s the ultimate sustainable farming model.”

“Feeding an estimated extra 2.2 billion people living on planet earth by 2050 is going to be one of the biggest challenges we face in the future,” adds Alan Howard, the IET’s Design and Manufacturing Lead. “This idea from Small Robot Company could provide a vital and secure source of food to help feed the world.”

Bethan Grylls

Comment on this article

This material is protected by MA Business copyright See Terms and Conditions. One-off usage is permitted but bulk copying is not. For multiple copies contact the sales team.

What you think about this article:

Add your comments


Your comments/feedback may be edited prior to publishing. Not all entries will be published.
Please view our Terms and Conditions before leaving a comment.

Related Articles

Definition in demand

Consumer interest in 4K continues to increase and by the end of 2018 4K TV ...

Managing your IPR

It’s essential that companies consider managing their intellectual property ...

Gold-plated posts

Responding to a growing demand from high-end audio and precision ...

Smart Home Expo

The Smart Home Expo, which focuses on the future of smart technologies, ...

Get to market faster

A quick look at using Vicor's PFM and AIM in VIA packaging for your AC to Point ...

Semiconductor boom

Compared to an ailing steel industry, just a few years ago, the semiconductor ...

Sourcing components

Since the launch of the Model 3, Elon Musk has been under significant pressure ...

Planning pays off

Described as a one-stop shop Plexus provides companies with engineering, ...

Piezoelectric haptics

Boréas Technologies’ CEO, Simon Chaput, talks to Neil Tyler about the company’s ...

Teach them to fish

Last year was dubbed the “worst ever” by the Online Trust Alliance for data ...