A group of innovative Dutch arable farmers in the Hoeksche Waard joined in H-Wodka are having a field robot built for a range of shallow soil tillage operations.
The Robotiller will be a relatively light machine, supported by cage rollers to cover the entire width for minimal ground pressure. A power harrow and/or static tillage tools are incorporated in the implement between the electrically driven cage rollers split into three sections to allow for skid steering. The Robotiller is targeted to be a dedicated field robot for a range of shallow soil cultivations such as soil surface levelling, (false) seedbed and plantbed preparation, full width weed control and stubble cultivation.
“With a total weight of 3 to 4 tonnes, this machine will be a lot lighter than an unmanned tractor without a cabin,” explains arable farmer Leen Ampt. He is the spokesman for the H-Wodka partnership, which approximately 20 arable farmers participate in.
“It is nor a tractor nor a versatile tool carrier on which to suspend implements. We opt for the development of a dedicated field robot for a coherent but limited range of field operations, primarily objected to save energy/CO2 emission and to prevent soil compaction.”
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The Robotiller is part of a more comprehensive plan for sustainable soil management. The H-Wodka partnership is supported in this by Dutch sugar manufacturer Cosun Beet Company and the farmers’ cooperatives CZAV and Nedato. The project is also financially supported through the European rural development subsidy program (POP3) for the development, sustainability and innovation of the agricultural sector.
The Robotiller project allows for the application of a 50 kW hydrogen fuel cell as a power source to begin with. According to the growers at H-Wodka, Hydrogen is the energy carrier for the arable farm of the future. The idea is to ultimately extend the use of the power unit and the controller, i.e. the “heart and brain” of the robot, to drive other light carriages e.g. for seeding, weeding, spraying and scouting purposes.
The Reedyk Hydrauliek company in Klaaswaal is building a pré-prototype in consultation with the growers. The first demonstration is expected in 2021.