Fruit picking robots receive funding boost

An innovative project in Nottingham that converts carbon dioxide into clean animal feed is 1 of 9 pioneering agricultural technology projects set to benefit from £24 million of government funding.

Science Minister Amanda Solloway said: "From robotics assisting our farmers in fruit picking, to technology that converts CO2 to clean animal feed, the incredible projects we are backing today represent the future of farming. Working with the best of British science, we are turning our most creative ideas into pioneering projects that will accelerate our transition to net zero food production, boost jobs and drive forward the UK’s economic recovery."

Other projects receiving funding include the world’s first Autonomous Growing System (AGS), led by Optimal Labs in London, which will receive over £2 million to provide autonomous technology that controls climate, irrigation and lighting, enabling any crop variety to be grown in any location. This will significantly increase production levels and resource-efficiency in existing UK greenhouses, helping to protect the UK’s food system against climate change and population growth.

A further project led by Saga Robotics in Lincoln will receive nearly £2.5 million to perform the largest known global demonstration of robotics and autonomous technologies on a farm. The robots will assist farmers by carrying out essential, energy intensive physical farm processes such as picking and packing fruit and treating crops to reduce critical pests and diseases. This will help provide a more efficient food supply at a cheaper cost, allowing farmers to commit more time to the wider running of their farms.

With traditional open days postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, Farming Minister Victoria Prentis said: "It’s great to see investment in these outstanding ideas which will help us tackle the farming industry’s greatest challenges, from achieving net zero emissions to investing in sustainable alternative protein for animal feed. Farming has never before been at the centre of such exciting and forward looking innovations."

For a list of the projects, with more details on their work, please click here.


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