Rural economy has been turning to robotics for some time now to solve the food challenge caused by the current population growth. AgTech is indeed booming with the rise of precision farming and crop-monitoring techniques. An extensive experiment has been recently conducted in a field in Shropshire, England in order to create 'the first farm with no farmers' – with £200,00 of public funding allocated to startup Hand Free Hectare. All farm work there has been operated by AUV and autonomous vehicles: from sowing, fertilizing, harvesting to monitoring. Not a single person sets foot on this arable land, neither do heavy machinery that usually damage soils and lack precision. First harvesting operations were carried out on August/September. There appears to be no technological barrier to robotic expansion and automation in agriculture. Hopefully, like in any other sector, we hope that human labour should not be suppressed but rather be transformed: farmers being able to focus more on crop monitoring by becoming analysts and robotic fleet managers.
By Marie-Eléonore Noiré