Robotic tractor ready for Scotland's fields

Farmers and contractors in Scotland and the north of England will be amongst the first to have the opportunity to put a full scale, autonomous tractor to work in their own fields.

The Dutch-developed AgBot 5.115T2, a 156hp dual tracked autonomous tractor which is to be unveiled at the upcoming Royal Highland Show is available to buy from Angus-based precision farming specialists, SoilEssentials.

And in-field demonstration days to highlight the multitude of tasks such as sowing and cultivating which the machine is capable of undertaking without human guidance using standard PTO and hydraulic attachments are scheduled for the following week in East Lothian and Angus.

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Developed in the Netherlands by AgXeed, the AgBot will be formally launched onto the UK market at the Cereals event later today (Wednesday).

The Dutch-developed AgBot 5.115T2, a 156hp dual tracked autonomous tractor.The Dutch-developed AgBot 5.115T2, a 156hp dual tracked autonomous tractor.
The Dutch-developed AgBot 5.115T2, a 156hp dual tracked autonomous tractor.

“We are very excited to have been given this opportunity by AgXeed. The AgBot is a complete game-changer for our farming and contracting customers,” said SoilEssential’s Gregor Welsh.

“It would seem like every other week the farming media runs a piece featuring the latest CAD sketch or stylised image of what an autonomous tractor from one of the established tractor manufacturers might look like.

He said that such announcements tended to be light on detail, long on hype and with vague “next year” promises: “AgXeed have worked away quietly in the background and have now made the crucial leap to full market launch. We are so proud to now bring the AgBot to our customers!

“The AgBot can operate implements such as cultivators and drills etc just like a conventional tractor thanks to its front and rear linkage and trusted Deutz diesel engine. The engine is connected to a generator to provide extremely efficient electric power to the drive train and PTO. The game changer is that there is no need for anyone to sit in an operator’s seat; a major bonus in this time of labour shortages.”

♦ Yesterday also saw the announcement that precision farming delivered by autonomous mini-robots took a step closer with the launch of a commercial ‘per plant’ farming robot service.

The Small Robot Company (SRC), a British agritech start-up for sustainable farming announced that they planned to launch the service on a trial basis to 50 commercial operations layer this year following pilot trials which indicated the service could deliver a 77 per cent reduction in pesticide use.

President and co-founder of the Small Robot Company, Sam Watson Jones, said the service would optimise existing sprayer equipment to reduce costs and inputs, using Per Plant Intelligence provided by his company’s monitoring robot to treat only the problem areas.

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He said that the service would allow farmers to assess weed density information for no spray decisions, based on weed density and distribution.

The autonomous robot called Tom scans fields with an array of cameras on what looks like a spray boom, building an understanding of where every plant is and what each one needs to achieve optimal performance, with the information gathered used to inform variable rate fertiliser applications and to spot-apply herbicides.

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