It lasts longer and requires less pesticides. It is also much tastier according to Gustav Leonhardt, winner of Chef of the Year 2021 and Sweden’s representative in the Bocuse d‘Or 2024. The 5G onion is an example of how one of the most common ingredients in the Swedish kitchen, with the help of the 5G network and new technology, taken to a whole new level.
The 5G onion is the next step in the EKOBOT pilot project which was started in 2021 by Telia, Ekobot, RISE and Axis Communications. Basically, the project is about how a 700-kilogram robot, thanks to the mobile network and new technologies such as 5G as well as cutting-edge expertise in video technology, can identify and with surgical precision clear weeds on onion farms. That the choice fell on yellow onion is because it is one of the crops that is most difficult to grow without pesticides and one of the most used crops in Swedish households – on average, Swedes eat 6 kilos of onions per year.
“Yellow onions played a central role when I won chef of the year 2021, and before that I looked for a long time for an onion that held a higher level. Now that I have been able to test the 5G onion, I feel that I have found what I was looking for. Everything is better – the taste, the texture and the composition. It’s awesome that advanced technology can raise the quality of the raw material so much”, says Gustav Leonhardt.
The technology behind the 5G onion, with Ekobot’s 700-kilogram robots at the forefront, is an example of how the development of precision agriculture can be realized in a sustainable and profitable way. In an EU-funded study of several Swedish farms, it was determined that the technology reduced the amount of pesticides by 70 percent, the number of variants of agents from six to two, and CO2 emissions by 19 percent. A survey by the Household Association also shows that the harvest will be 6 percent larger. On top of this, the shelf life of the onions is longer, which reduces wastage in storage.
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“With the 5G onion, we want to exemplify how today’s technology can solve a difficult challenge in a slightly unexpected way. Not everyone understands the speed, stability and security that comes with 5G, but everyone understands the taste and basically everyone eats onions”, says Oscar Karlsson, Head of B2C at Telia.