Robotti the first robotic tractor in operation in the UK

03-05 | Updated on 11-06 | | |
Photo: AgroIntelli
Photo: AgroIntelli

Home Farm Nacton in Suffolk has taken delivery of a Robotti 150D, from Danish manufacturer Agrointelli. It is the first robotic tractor in the UK, and is now fully operational on the farm.

Producing both organic and conventional vegetables, including leeks, brassicas, onions, red beet, potatoes, fodder beet, sugar beet and cereals, across 1940ha, Home Farm was looking for ways to adopt more advancedtechnology into the business. According to Andrew Williams, farm director at Home Farm the Robotti 150D ticked all of the boxes.

Future-proof the farm

“A large amount of our produce is organic, so we are increasingly limited in how we can control weeds. Mechanical weeding is repetitive work, as is manual weeding, and sourcing seasonal, overseas labour is becoming increasingly difficult. We wanted to future-proof the farm and Robotti is perfectly suited to our set-up.”

The Robotti 150D has now been in operation on the farm since mid-April, weeding a number of vegetable crops using a harrow attachment. This is one of 50 robots which will be working in Europe by the end of the year.

Robotti 150D in operation 24 hours a day

“It can be in operation 24 hours a day, so there is a long window of opportunity for it to make a difference in the crucial weeding stages of the crops, fitting well into our cropping plan. It does exactly what we need, moving soil in the early stage of growth with guaranteed precision”, Williams said.

According to Williams the Robotto will initially be used for weeding this year. “But we also plan to use it for topping and drilling in the future, maybe even transplanting or – who knows?”

Text continues underneath image

The Robotti 150D has now been in operation on the farm since mid-April, weeding a number of vegetable crops using a harrow attachment. This is one of 50 robots which will be working in Europe by the end of the year.  - Photo: AgroIntelli

The Robotti 150D has now been in operation on the farm since mid-April, weeding a number of vegetable crops using a harrow attachment. This is one of 50 robots which will be working in Europe by the end of the year. – Photo: AgroIntelli

Autonomously controlled by GPS

Designed and manufactured by Denmark-based Agrointelli, Robotti 150D is autonomously controlled by GPS via an onboard computer, not depending on a human driver, instead following a pre-programmed planned route in the field.

The model at Home Farm has two Kubota 75 HP Diesel or bio fuel engines; the left engine propels the machine and powers the conventional 3 point hitch, meaning it can be fitted with standard implements and perform multiple tasks in the field throughout the season. The right engine drives the PTO. Each engine takes 110 litres of fuel, which is enough for the machine to run continuously for approximately 24 hours.

“The accuracy lies in the GPS mapped field, with Robotti taking the same exact lines every time,” explains Frederik Rom, Agrointelli sales manager. “It is equipped with RTK GPS, so the set up on any farm is simple. It took approximately 10 minutes to map a four-acre field at Home Farm, and a further 10 minutes to log the weeding plan into the system. It is important for this to be accurate from the start, as it will determine reliable performance,” adds Frederik.

Text continues underneath image

The model at Home Farm has two Kubota 75 HP Diesel or bio fuel engines; the left engine propels the machine and powers the conventional 3 point hitch, meaning it can be fitted with standard implements and perform multiple tasks in the field throughout the season.  - Photo: AgroIntelli

The model at Home Farm has two Kubota 75 HP Diesel or bio fuel engines; the left engine propels the machine and powers the conventional 3 point hitch, meaning it can be fitted with standard implements and perform multiple tasks in the field throughout the season. – Photo: AgroIntelli

Real-time updates of the machine’s progress

Field obstacles such as telegraph poles or trees are logged at the programming stage. Any other obstacles outside of this will make Robotti stop in its tracks for safety, until the obstacle is removed from its path. In the office at Home Farm, Andrew has access to the online Robotti portal, providing real-time updates of the machine’s progress.

“I can leave Robotti working in the field quite happily, knowing that it will send me an alert if there is an issue, or if something unexpected is in its way. It has front and rear cameras, which I can view at any time. I am able to check the progress of crop growth at any location within that field, without having to walk to see it,” says Andrew.

“The portal tells me how much fuel is in the tank, how many hours it has done, and how much time it has left before the fuel runs out. It will also tell me when it’s finished one field, so I can ensure it’s taken to the next field to start its new job.”

Text continues underneath image

Robotti 150D is autonomously controlled by GPS via an onboard computer, not depending on a human driver, instead following a pre-programmed planned route in the field. - Photo: AgroIntelli

Robotti 150D is autonomously controlled by GPS via an onboard computer, not depending on a human driver, instead following a pre-programmed planned route in the field. – Photo: AgroIntelli

Robotti also works well on heavier land

While Home Farm Nacton is largely light land, according to the manufacturer development trials in Denmark show that the Robotti also works well on heavier land. The machine works effectively with bed systems and row crops, as it carries the implement in the centre, evenly distributing the weight on all four wheels. AgroIntelli says the low ground pressure, low weight, and 4WD, means it is less likely to get stuck than a tractor, also reducing the risk of soil compaction and structural damage to the soil.

Claver
Hugo Claver Web editor for Future Farming