The all-electric autonomous bots provide chemical-free treatments to plants
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Spotted: Precision farming combines efficiency, productivity, and innovation in the quest to design a secure food future for the world’s growing population. Robots are an important part of this development of agtech, and autonomous ones are becoming increasingly versatile. Norwegian company Saga Robotics has created a farming-as-a-service platform called Thorvald that uses autonomous robots to treat crops for powdery mildew.
As the company highlights, powdery mildew can reduce a vineyard’s crop of grapes by up to 45 per cent in a single season. To combat that loss, many growers spray their vines with fungicides 15 times a summer. Saga Robotics’ goal is to make farming easier and healthier for farmers, and thereby consumers as well. One critical aspect of that is to reduce chemical usage across the industry.
The Thorvald robots apply a shortwave ultraviolet light treatment, UV-C, that deactivates the powdery mildew on the plant. The light is applied at night for maximum effect on the mildew, which also provides the added benefit of reducing time during the day that growers have to spend applying treatments to their crops. The light is currently approved for use with strawberries and grapes, and the company is developing a range of other light treatments for additional crops.
The electric robots are modular and designed to be modified by farmers using readily available hand tools. Available in three configurations, the robots work in polytunnels, vineyards, and open fields. Part of the company’s farming-as-a-service includes field mapping and a full season of light treatments, along with access to the live data feed from the robots.
The development of robots for agricultural use is an exciting area of innovation, with Springwise spotting many different designs, from a spray robot making it possible to better focus the applications of pesticides to a full system that runs an entire growing season from planting to harvest.
Written By: Keely Khoury