Horticulture producer Ed Fagan would buy a robot to use in his farming system “straight away”. The mixed farmer from Cowra in NSW has been involved in conceptual testing of the Ladybird Farm Robot and the RIPPA (Robot for Intelligent Perception and Precision Application).
Both robots were developed through a Horticulture Innovation Australia project and will be used at the new HIA Centre For Robotics.
Mr Fagan said the robots would help cut down on labour costs and provide higher quality assurance.
Growing corn, baby leaf salad, onions and beetroot, Mr Fagan said labour costs were increasing every year, alongside tighter specifications for products.
“A robot, which can pick up a foreign body such as a twig in baby leaf salad, would give customers the confidence we are doing all we can to ensure food safety,” he said.
Mr Fagan said a robot could tell in 50ha of baby spinach if there was an object, such as a twig or weed, that wasn’t supposed to be there and he wouldn’t see.
He also said the robots could run all day and night, through hot or cold conditions and to a consistent level.
Although the robots were not yet commercially available, Mr Fagan said he’d buy one for use on his farm as soon as possible.
The robots use sensors to identify different crops, projected yields, identify weeds and spray or pull weeds.