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In the field:

Craig Livingstone manages the 800-hectare Lockerley Estate and is part of the Small Robot Company’s farmer advisory group. Alongside cereals, the farm also grazes 1,300 sheep in partnership with a local shepherd.

 

Mr Livingstone says: “We are a Leaf marque farm and are moving towards regenerative agriculture and I am hoping that robots can help us accelerate that. We have taken up Higher Tier options with grass leys and clover, extended our rotation, introduced cover crops and swapped oilseed rape for pulses.

 

“The obvious benefits of non-chemical weeding with Dick are an attraction, but I am also keen to use the data that Tom can provide,” he adds.

 

“We already carry out soil scanning using five satellite stations for GPS mapping and perform detailed analysis, use section control, etc, but where do we go next?”

 

Mr Livingstone says that the farm has already reduced its pesticide spend by 41% and cut fertiliser use.

 

“We are not organic but want to go in that direction. We would like to cut pesticides by 60% and I believe robots can help.”

 

He also points to the need to provide ‘public goods’ as an advantage of having more data to hand.

 

“We cannot put a value on not moving soil yet, but using robots for planting, for example, would contribute to this and allow us to quantify it. There is also potential to evaluate environmental gains by using sensors to record birdsong.

 

“Improved monitoring can certainly give us data to help to decide what to do next – or more importantly ‘not to do something’. By having precise details of soil status and green cover to combine with historical weather data we can look at the possible scenarios ahead to adjust inputs. We know it’s possible but it’s having the confidence to do it and having data to hand is the key.”

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