Robotti sows 100.000 beets per hour
"This is a story about three guys from Doorgrond,
who are raising an Agrointelli Robotti agriculture robot.
They teach the robot to do sugar beet sowing,
with a Kverneland Optima."
Let’s start with good news: Beets can grow!
With more than one hectare per hour, about 100.000 sugar beet seeds go in the ground, effortless. Day & night.
And facing the real farm situation doesn’t seem to problem. The Agrointelli Robotti is facing a strange shape of the field and the pour mobile connectivity, but handling it with ease.
In these first hours of operating, it’s being supervised continuously by the team of Doorgrond … with one operational issue ongoing at this moment: “I start to get hungry. Where can we order pizza?”.
Although the sugar beet sowing itself may seem not such a complex task, it’s being done with a high-tech robot and high-tech sowing machine.
The communications between the two systems is crucial. An easy example to think of: Sometimes the robot maneuvers at the headland of the field to just turn around. But also, the same robot is sometimes driving on the same headland of the field to actually perform the sowing. In this case, the sowing machine should actually run. So will the sowing machine be well informed and without interference? It seems to work smoothly. And the customization that Doorgrond performed (more info here on their website) shows a succesfull decoupling in core functionalities.
'Teething troubles' for Agrointelli Robotti
Sowing did start 4 days later than planned. Core components on the engine and the steering construction have faced malfunction and needed to be ‘nurtured’ by engine specialist and engineers that overnight drove The Netherlands.
Let’s not forget, it’s not only high-tech software… but it’s also a tractor built up from scratch. And that later part did seem, in my humble opinion, to be facing teething troubles. Also in the field, signals do indicate me that not for all circumstances this robot will finds it way: For example, a crawling front wheel seems to be a symptom of the construction that the full weight of the machine in the hitch is distributed to only one side of the robot.
But meter by meter … the issues are tackled and it’s inspiring to see the approach on trouble shooting and the battle that Doorgrond takes each time they get the signal that the robot should be ‘good to go’ again.
Fun fact: Sowing the same row twice
Suddenly the robot starts to sow where the machine did already did sow. That doesn’t sound good…. Going to ‘back in the days’, seeds where sometimes missed as a seed did not drop properly in the sowing disc. Incidentally, so many seeds where missed that farmers performed re-sowing of the missing seeds. Manually sowing, after emergence of the crop (or just leave blank spots).
But now, the Kverneland Optima sowing machine detected blank spots and recommended to do a re-run…. To be clear, it’s measuring exactly where a seed did miss out. Only there, a new seed is placed. The other successful seeds, will remain in where they are.
The vision applied with this machine is: More precise agriculture with smaller machinery, enables more sustainable farming. One operator could easily manage two ‘light weight’ machines with less soil impact.
Details about the setting
Exact type of robot: Robotti 150D
Exact type of sowing machine: Kverneland Optima E-drive met de HD2 zaairij
Weight of robot + sower: 4360 kg
Tire size: BKT 320/65 R16
Tire pressure: 2 bar
Working width: 3.00m
Driving speed: Limited at 5km/h (software setting by robot, 7km/h feasible)
Purchase price of machinery: €210.000,-
A special thanks to ...
The invite of Han Hilbrands, Jeroen Wolters and Jorick Lambers from Doorgrond allowing me to record their adventure of ‘teaching the robot to sow’. Doorgrond is the first enterprise in The Netherlands that is founded to bring agriculture robots to the farming fields.
The hospitality of Jacob van den Borne, Proeftuin voor precisielandbouw en Fieldlab Precision Agricutlure. Allowing me to run kilometers on his fields, to capture the photos and videos.
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Or go to the website of Jeroen, Han and Jorick...