November 14, 2017 18:15 GMT by dailymail.co.uk

Robots could be used on farms by 2020

Engineers from Harper Adams University in Shropshire are working on robots that can autonomously plant seeds, weed, water and spray without a farmer needing to enter the field.

Farmers could soon be given a helping hand to harvest their vegetables - in the form of robots.   

Scientists are developing farm robots that don't harvest crops until they are perfect, eradicating wonky and inedible vegetable. 

And it may not be long before we see the robots hitting fields, with experts predicting they could be used as early as 2020.

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Scientists are developing farm robots that don't harvest crops until they are perfect, which could be used as early as 2020 

Scientists are developing farm robots that don't harvest crops until they are perfect, which could be used as early as 2020 

ROBOT FARMERS 

Engineers are working on machines that can autonomously plant seeds, weed, water and spray without a farmer.

The robots can also be programmed to only pick crops where they are perfectly ripe.

Professor Simon Blackmore said: 'I am trying develop a completely new agricultural mechanisation system based on small smart machines.

'We are developing laser weeding, droplet application where only 100 per cent of the chemical goes onto the target leaf, selective harvesting where we can grade the product at the point of harvest.'

Farmers currently harvest fields all at once, in a practice known as slaughter harvesting.

But this method leads to up to 60 per cent of the crop being wasted, because it is either wonky or inedible.

To counteract this issue, engineers from Harper Adams University in Shropshire are working on machines that can autonomously plant seeds, weed, water and spray without a farmer needing to venture into the field.

The robots can also be programmed to only pick crops where they are perfectly ripe.

Speaking at a briefing in London this week, Professor Simon Blackmore, head of agricultural robotics at Harper Adams University predicted that the robots would be ready to hit fields by 2020.

Engineers from Harper Adams University in Shropshire are working on machines that can autonomously plant seeds, weed, water and spray without a farmer needing to venture into the field

Engineers from Harper Adams University in Shropshire are working on machines that can autonomously plant seeds, weed, water and spray without a farmer needing to venture into the field

Professor Blackmore said: 'I am trying develop a completely new agricultural mechanisation system based on small smart machines.

'We are developing laser weeding, droplet application where only 100 per cent of the chemical goes onto the target leaf, selective harvesting where we can grade the product at the point of harvest.

'Between 20 and 60 per cent of crops is thrown away at the point of harvest because supermarkets won't buy wonky veg, because you and I don't buy wonky veg.

The robots can also be programmed to only pick crops where they are perfectly ripe. Details on how the robots will work, or how much they will cost remain unknown

The robots can also be programmed to only pick crops where they are perfectly ripe. Details on how the robots will work, or how much they will cost remain unknown

'When we are faced with a set of tomatoes or lettuces we pick the best one not the worst one.

'But we can leave lettuces behind which perhaps can't be sold today, but we can come back next week and be able to harvest them then.'

Details on how the robots will work, or how much they will cost remain unknown.

 

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