Fully Autonomous Shropshire Wheat Ready for Harvest

By Gary Cutlack on at

Robots are doing something useful for once in Shropshire, where a farm has started to harvest a crop of wheat that's been grown entirely by automated processes. All for us to eat. Thanks, robots.

It's been coordinated as part of the Hands-Free Hectare project, which set out with a few hundred thousand quid of government money last year to try to farm crops with zero human involvement. Although lots of humans are sitting in labs programming the robots, so we're not being put out of work yet.

The process saw the land tilled autonomously, planted autonomously, monitored autonomously, sprayed autonomously, checked autonomously by drone and now harvested autonomously, without anyone getting anything under their fingernails.

The idea is to up yields beyond current levels so we all have enough Weetabix to eat in the future, with project leader Kit Franklin saying it's all worth it, explaining: "It's the most expensive hectare of barley ever, but I compare it to the expense of putting a man on the moon. In farming, bits and pieces are being automated all the time, but we're showing that the entire process can already be automated with today's technology, with humans only monitoring remotely." [The Times]