Robot helpers address farm workforce shortages


In the United Kingdom, produce growers concerned about workforce shortages in the wake of Brexit could soon have an alternative solution – robots. The University of Plymouth is bringing researchers together with producers to create robots which could potentially work alongside their existing workforces and ensure any availability gaps are filled.

The Automated Brassica harvest in Cornwall project is developing the cutting-edge technology to help with the cauliflower harvest. It’s being led by robotics lecturer Dr. Martin Stoelen and his vision is to create small, mobile machines – little helpers – that could perform this task.

“A lot of producers are very worried about where they will get their reasonably priced manual labor from – and rightly so,” says Dr. Stoelen.  “Manual harvesting also represents a large portion of their total costs, often it can be up to 50 percent, so looking at addressing that, especially against a backdrop of Brexit, is very important.”