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Robots influence the role of the farmer and horticulturist

Published on
October 5, 2021

Robots can help the agricultural sector in various ways: they are good at difficult, complex, heavy or monotonous work. In addition, they help to increase sustainability, for example by using the necessary tools and raw materials in a more precise and targeted manner. Robotisation will change the role of the agricultural entrepreneur. This is the conclusion of the strategic agenda 'European Robotics in agri-food Production: Opportunities and Challenges', in which the Business Unit Greenhouse Horticulture and Flower Bulbs of Wageningen University & Research participated.

Published last year, the strategic agenda is a collaboration between industry organisation EU Robotics and the European project agROBOfood. WUR is involved in both. The agenda is intended for the  European stakeholders, as the European Union is working on a major digitisation agenda. With a special focus on the agricultural sector in this EU agenda, the ‘European Robotics in agri-food Production’ report aims to be the basis for new European policy and calls.  Moreover, it could lead to more unanimity within the sector. The EU and the agricultural sector have reacted very positively to the published report.

A small team, including some WUR researchers, worked for about a year on 'European Robotics in agri-food Production: Opportunities and Challenges'. The team held, discussions with the professional field, such as specialised companies. The analyses showed that robotisation can change the work of farmers and horticulturists: robots and artificial intelligence will increasingly support them in their decision-making. In addition, robots may offer a solution to the labour issues that are becoming more and more urgent in greenhouse horticulture, among others.