The most efficient and sustainable farming methods of the future lie with precision technology, according to Ben Scott-Robinson, co-founder of the Small Robot Company alongside fourth generation farmer Sam Watson-Jones.
Speaking in one of the event hubs at Dairy-Tech this year, he told delegates how the Small Robot Company was harnessing the use of robots and artificial intelligence (AI) to improve the way food is produced while minimising chemical usage, soil compaction and improving soil health – as well as getting more from field space like headlands.
He said: “We wanted to create a concept which was easy to use primarily, and market research had told us there was an appetite for working with technology but only if this was reliable and at a reasonable cost to a farm business.
“We also wanted something which was time-proof, so businesses were not put off by the concept of having to re-invest in five to 10 years’ time as technology progresses.”
To that end, the Small Robot Company’s concept of ‘Farming as a Service’ was born, which sees farmers pay a per hectare subscription fee for its robots which promise to deliver crop care using per-plant precision.
This is currently undertaken by three robots; Tom (crop and soil monitoring), Dick (precision spraying and weeding) and Harry (precision drilling and planting).
These robots are backed up by Wilma (the operating system) which works in conjunction with AI software to process the information and data fed into it from the robots on the ground which is used to aid decision making on-farm.
The company has so far raised £1.2 million of funding via crowdfunding networks thanks to support from various agricultural backers and takes its total funding to £2.5 million, which includes money won through awards, alongside pre-sales.