Robotic firm SwarmFarm has developed the world’s first ‘swarming’ robots which work in groups to spray crops and carry out other tasks.
Rather than relying on large farm machinery, it hopes farmers will instead be able to use the small, lightweight robots to carry out tasks more accurately and effectively. As well as applying fertiliser and irrigating crops, the swarming robots (Swarmbots as they are affectionately known) can carry out planting, weed and insect control and harvesting.
Now to continue to develop the technology, Adama has started working in partnership with SwarmFarm to help it find ways to utilise the technology to improve farm productivity further. In addition to looking at unique crop protection formulations to be utilised through the Swarmbots, Adama and SwarmFarm will also be focused on using the platform to deliver new, simplified solutions around weeds, labour, sustainability and application timing.
Speaking at the world’s first demonstration of the technology - in front of 330 farmers and growers at a wheat farm at Gindie, Queensland last month - SwarmFarm Chief Executive Andrew Bate said the technology would allow farmers to give each plant individual attention. “In this new world the machines will have the time to undertake tasks, slowly, carefully and with great precision,” he said. “Planting, applying fertiliser precisely and economically, eliminating weeds and insects and harvesting the crop. That means higher yields, lower costs, cleaner and greener food.”
The technology, which took five years to develop and received government funding worth $1M AUD, was now ready to be offered commercially to farmers around the world, he added. Adama Australia Digital Innovation Manager Alex Mills said the technology would help Adama rethink crop protection application. “Adama will utilise the SwarmFarm technology to assess unique crop protection formulations and innovative use patterns to help deliver new simplified solutions around resistant weeds, labour, application timing and efficacy,” he said.
“SwarmFarm has the potential to deliver greater simplicity to farmers not only in Australia but across all developed and emerging markets around the world.” The technology is now being rolled out as a commercial service in Central Queensland and will move into New South Wales by the end of the year. SwarmFarm will then look to establish pilot projects in other states and industries, including tree plantations, horticulture, sugar cane and vineyards, Mr Bate said. “SwarmFarm has global aspirations and we intend to be in every state of Australia by the end of 2017,” he added.