Providing pesticide-free weed control with zero fuel bills, the fully autonomous FarmDroid solar-powered precision drilling and weeding robot is set to join the Opico line up.

Developed by Danish farming brothers Jens and Kristian Warming, the FarmDroid uses ultra-accurate GPS to record exactly where it places each seed. Then on each subsequent weeding pass, it knows where the crop plants should be and works around them, hoes shares running between each row and blades slicing off anything between each crop plant, in the row.

This approach means it does not need any high-definition cameras and complex computers to identify and target weeds, allowing it to start the weeding process before crop emergence. With in-row and inter-row action it does the complete job, working up to within 5.0mm of each seedling between the rows and 20mm in the row.

Weighing just 800kg, the first users have reported sugar beet yield increases of 40-60% over tractor-hoed crops, which they put down to the combination of precise seed placement and intra-row weed control making for uniform crop development.

The two Danish brothers built the first prototypes with the help of some robotics specialists in their farm workshop. Launched at Agritechnica 2019, the FarmDroid is now produced at dedicated manufacturing complex and 250+ machines are out working across northern Europe.

“FarmDroid has come up with a unique solution that is suited to large and small-scale farming systems,” explains Opico managing director James Woolway. “Our distribution network, parts and technical teams are more than capable of backing the tried and tested product up so it’s a great fit.”

The current six-row FD20 retails at £59,500 with an additional £4,243 required for an RTK base station. Grant funding is likely to be available to assist with the purchase. The machine will be on the Opico stand at next month’s LAMMA.