How agriculture robots enable strip cropping
(and other field changes)
What agriculture robots make different?
Automatic steering of agriculture robot with RTK GPS
Nearly inherent to agricultural robotics is the navigation with RTK GPS, needed to find its way on the field. Navigation with RTK GPS enables the robots to have preset route on the field, on the centimeter accurate. This gives the significant benefit of being able to drive on the same place in the field every day.
Light-weight and low capacity, compared to traditional tractors
Current development of agriculture robots is typically aimed at less heavy and low capacity machinery. By autonomous operations of the agricultural robots, this factor to increase to higher and higher capacity is eliminated. Therefore, less heavy machines and the possibility to redesign the field towards strip cropping.
Operate agriculture robots on fixed driving lanes
Less impacted soil
Extremely reduced soil impaction on the cultivation area. Resulting in higher yields, due to better soil conditions.
Stay on your lane - Exactly
When driving on the field, lanes are assigned to drive typically with the accuracy of about two centimeter
RTK-GPS & aligned track width
Automated steering e.g. on RTK-GPS
Matching machine operational width
Tractor tires and axes width aligned
How may robots contribute?
Typically current field robotics are already equipped with precision steering and are light-weight. Actually, NOT following a fixed driving lane will be more difficult.
It should be aligned with the width of the tires and axis that are most suitable for the targeted farm. And therefore also depending on the existing machinery. Current robots only have limited possibilities.
Create strip cropping with agriculture robots
Conditions for diseases deteriorate and increasing the possibilities for a higher biodiversity (e.g. insects, birds,...)
Long stretched mini-fields
Instead of large pieces of uniform fields, with stripcropping small strokes of different crops grow next to each other.
Redesign logistics for robot
Redesign on transport route on field, especially for harvesting of products
How do robots contribute?
Ideal use case of field robots! The stripcropping needs smaller machines, while the autonomous robots are lightweight and avoid that extra labor costs are needed.
A very practical consideration is to have a working area of 3 meter, therefore axes width of 3.15m. Agrointelli's Robotti and Pixelfarmings 'Robot One' do allow this.
Going beyond strip cropping: Intercropping
Growth of (only) some plants can increase due to giving nutritions to each other e.g. grass and clover
Differentiate on plant-level
In between one type of crop, another type(s) of crop are added. The plant will exchange nutritions that help each other.
Very specific crops
Plants that actively help each-other
Intercrop seed and harvest solution
Plant identification e.g. location-data
How do robots contribute?
This is extremely complex for robotics and the number of crops that need individual care and actually increase yield by intercropping are very limited.
Field robotics is not expected to increase much in the upcoming two years for intercropping. Only home-grown solution like Farmbot is expected to increase, from which it is interesting to learn from.
And the agriculture robot that has intercropping in its DNA: PixelFarming Robot One.
Frequently asked questions
What is the definition of fixed driving lane?
Fixed driving lane is the path for the agriculture robot to drive on the same position, over and over again. In contrast to fixed driving lane, in 'traditional farming' a person that drives a tractor shows in practice to drive over different places off the field. Therefore, the multiple trails will result in multiple places where the soil is compacted by the machinery.
What is the definition of controlled traffic farming (also noted as CTF) ?
Controlled traffic farming is an alternative word to say exactly the same as fixed driving lanes, in perspective of farming. Especially in Australia, controlled traffic farming is applied already in a significant extend without the use of agriculture robots.
What is de the definition of fixed crop lanes?
Fixed crop lanes is not an often used term. Fixed crop lanes is the same as the fixed driving lane, however by using these wording the emphasis is put on the positive effect of the system. The driving lanes itself are negative, since now crop can grow where the agriculture robots are driving frequently. Therefore, by putting the emphasis on the crop lanes it's showing the key benefit of this system: Untouched fixed areas, where the plants can grow well.