In the U. K., Precision Decisions Ltd and Harper Adams University have begun the Hands Free Hectare project in an effort to grow and harvest a hectare of cereal crops using only autonomous farming machinery. The team will use the university’s engineering facilities to adapt existing small-scale machinery to conduct all farming activities without humans in the field.
Kit Franklin, one of the researchers, said, “As a team, we believe there is now no technological barrier to automated field agriculture. This project gives us the opportunity to prove this and change current public perception.”
With funding from Innovate UK, the project will demonstrate that multiple smaller, lighter machines can enter the field to facilitate high resolution precision farming; even to treat different areas of the field and individual plants separately. These machines will be linked into one system that still has humans involved in remotely monitoring and managing the processes; and, in keeping the little machines ready to farm.