Australia could see fully automated vegetable farms by 2025, according to top robotics researchers, with the ability to automate the entire production process for some crop commodities emerging through targeted research and development in the industry.
The latest edition of the InfoVeg Radio R&D podcast, developed specifically for Australian vegetable producers, features the developer of the Ladybird automated vegetable farm robot, Professor Salah Sukkarieh from the Australian Centre for Field Robotics, University of Sydney, who provides his insights into the vegetable farm of the future.
“With the work being done on robotics and mechanisation across a wide range of on-farm applications, from seeding to spraying to harvesting, the leading minds in the industry believe there will be fully automated solutions for certain crops by 2025,” said AUSVEG Deputy CEO Mr Andrew White.
AUSVEG is the leading horticultural body representing more than 9,000 Australian vegetable and potato growers, and publishes the InfoVeg Radio podcast to communicate R&D results to growers.
“There’s potential to have a fleet of robots and automated vehicles working in conjunction with each other – so, for example, cutting-edge growers could use drones for low-resolution, rapid information gathering across a wide area and combine that information with results from stationary sensors on the ground, as well as data gathered by ground robots,” said Mr White.
“As more and more automated information-gathering options come into play, growers will also need new systems or technology to bring the information together in a useable format and automate, to some degree, the whole decision-making process as well as the tasks themselves.”
The podcast also interviewed Mr John McPhee, Farming Systems Researcher at the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture, and Ms Sue Heisswolf, Senior Horticulturist at the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Queensland.
“Australia has been an innovator in the robotics space for industries like mining, and with targeted research and development applying our field robotics expertise to the agriculture industry, we’re now world-leaders in farm mechanisation,” said Mr White.
“Levy-funded research and development, as well as projects funded from other sources, are identifying priority crops for mechanisation, the benefits it can have for the industry, and areas where there is the most potential for innovation in this area.”
“The interviews in this edition of InfoVeg Radio provide great insights into how all these factors are going to play into the future of vegetable growing, and we recommend that all growers listen in.”
The podcast is available to stream online or download via the AUSVEG website (www.ausveg.com.au/infovegradio) or via iTunes. Growers with tractors equipped with a USB input in the cab stereo, such as those in the John Deere range, can listen to the program while out in the field.
This communication has been funded by Horticulture Innovation Australia using the National Vegetable Levy and funds from the Australian Government.