Jakob Bebe, AgroIntelli; "triple-digit growth in sales of robotic system"

Danish robots make up for labour shortages on farms across Europe and further afield

The autonomous robotic system called Robotti from Danish company AgroIntelli is helping farmers across Europe, the UK, Australia, and further afield to make up for the acute labor shortages. “Our robots also take care of the boring, repetitive tasks on vegetable farms like weeding, especially in organic farming, to free up scarce labor skills to focus on higher value tasks,” says Jakob Bebe, Chief Commercial Officer of AgroIntelli.

Robitti Parsnip seeding 

The company, which just celebrated 7 years, has seen triple-digit growth in sales of their robotic system between 2020 and 2021. With many countries experiencing acute labor shortages on farms, AgroIntelli is expecting further and similar growth in sales for this year. Robotti systems are in use by farmers in Denmark, Sweden, Poland, Germany, Hungary, Austria, Italy, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Switzerland, Netherlands, Belgium, the UK, Azerbaijan, and Australia.

“Our strategy is to assist vegetable farmers with high-value crops that are labor intensive in some of the applications. This is where often repetitive and boring tasks like weeding needs to be done. The main task and idea of robotizing is to replace this tedious and boring work in the field or wherever on the farm. In this way, the robots free up scarce resources allowing people to work elsewhere, creating more value for the farmer. Also, those tasks where farmers have the most trouble finding labor. Some countries are struggling to find labor. We even have customers who could not get enough people, leading to crops rotting in the field. An example is the effect of Brexit on the UK. Even in countries like Eastern Europe, where wages are lower, they are all struggling to find the labor to do the ‘boring’ tasks,” explains Bebe.

Robotti is used on a range of farms, including onions, salads, leeks, potatoes, carrots, parsnips, strawberries, and pumpkins, to name some of the main crops. The robots are paired with farming tools and implements from recognized manufacturers. AgroIntelli partners with K.U.L.T., a German company that develops in-row weeders that clean in-between plants.

“This system was recently showcased in Germany for the first time, where we also have a customer that is using it. We offer a full system to the farmer. It is a very flexible platform where the farmer can attach any implements to perform many tasks. It can be used for seeding, spraying, and weeding as well as less standard implements like mowers, ridging for potatoes, planters, rollers, and many different things. We are working very hard on providing our distributors with selected implements, which we know are specifically chosen to provide good value for specific tasks. We work with implement manufacturers allowing us to verify it with them to offer our customers a full system of Robotti that is targeted to provide value in specific crops. Depending on which implement and which crop, we can cover about one hectare per hour. You can drive 24/7 with lights on the robot. Farmers have the possibility to use it autonomously. You just set it up in the field and let it run, only stopping occasionally to refill the seeds. ” says Bebe.

Robotti Leek weeding

The company has two main owners, namely Nordic Alpha Partner, a private investment fund, and the Growth Foundation, which is part of the Danish Foreign Ministry, who jointly invested €14 million. This enabled the company to scale up both on a commercial level as well as in production facilities.

“The price level for our Robotti system is very competitive compared to an advanced tractor. It is especially the case that, in these high-value crops, there is a good business case. We see a return on investment of less than two years. It really depends on the farmer, the size of the fields, how big the crops are, and how much they use our system. We use Kubota diesel engines. The robot is ‘alien’ enough to farmers. We provide the robots with a propulsion system that’s familiar and easy to service by farmers. Because of the engine, we can work with heavy implements and do some light tillage. We need more power than a battery pack can provide. It is something we are looking into in the future.”

“We need partners to distribute the robot systems and to service and support customers. We cannot do it from Denmark. We are focusing on some of the main countries in Europe. We are trying to be closer to the market,” concludes Bebe.

For more information:
Jakob Møhl Bebe
Tel: +45 54583545
Email: jmb@agrointelli.com 

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