Farmers often have to do a lot of work to make sure that the fruits and vegetables we eat are healthy. This work can involve doing things like weeding and spraying while the crop is growing. Not only is this work repetitive, but it can also be costly and time-consuming. Thankfully, there is a solution: robotic and agro-technologies can help by doing some of the work for farmers. This way, farmers can spend their time on other things and don’t have to worry about doing work that is mundane, unhealthy, and unpleasant. The ROBS4CROPS project is working to make this solution a reality by accelerating the large-scale implementation of robotics and automation in European farming. is a robotic platform that has been designed to help farmers with various tasks. The beauty of this system is that it can be customized to different settings and locations. Right now, pilot testing is being conducted in Greece, Spain, France, and the Netherlands.
“One of our goals with ROBS4CROPS is to bring all members of the value chain together,” Growth Lead Maja Žikić stated in a news article. “By working with growers, we’re able to get insight and input that helps us perfect the system.”
solutions to be explored
The project will provide farmers with two different solutions for automating processes. In the fully automated solution, weeding and spraying are carried out autonomously by robots. In the partially automated option, tractors are retrofitted with a smart box to automate processes. “Both platforms will be topped up with a number of smart implements for weeding and spraying,” explains Žikić. “The goal is to help farmers reduce the amount of time they spend on repetitive tasks in different settings, from orchards to vineyards.”
ROBS4CROPS solutions are being put to the test in a few different areas. In France, the Ceol robot – which is part of ROBS4CROPS project partner Agreenculture – is taking the place of mechanical weeding in Loire Valley vineyards. This is to reduce labour costs and the number of weeding passes and chemical uses per season. The Ceol robot is also working on reducing the issues that come with seasonal spraying of table grape vineyards – such as a high number of pesticide and fertiliser applications, high labour costs and workforce shortages. The retrofit tractor and the Ceol robot are being put to the test in the same sprayer. This will help ROBS4CROPS researchers compare the two platforms and draw useful conclusions about their performance in the hilly Greek pilot sites. By automating orchard spraying in Catalonia with the aid of a retrofitted tractor using Agreenculture’s smart box and Teyme’s EOLO model sprayer, ROBS4CROPS aims to reduce chemical use and labor. In the Netherlands, the project has set up a pilot in potato crop rotation.