The first of its kind – How a solar powered field-working robot can help two farmers

Gottfried Kader and his son Sebastian have a new co-worker. One that can work entirely on its own. Both farmers take part in a special pilot project that brings a robot to the field they cultivate sugar beets on.

On 6.5 hectare the robot is responsible for seeding and clearing the area of weeds. Only powered by solar power and working with a preciseness of 2 to 4 millimeters in average.

“We went out to the field to check how the robot was working. But that wasn’t necessary,” farmer Gottfried Kader says. The robot, 75,000 Euros worth, spent 36 hours to prepare the field. At the moment still not as fast as the usual machines the farmers use. But the more data they collect, the more they could work on speeding up the process, Sebastian Kader states.

With their farm, located between the German towns Bonn and Cologne, both agriculturist are part of a working group, called Drรผber und Drunter and founded in the 1980s. Farmers and local water companies work together to prevent that nitrate and pesticides pollute the groundwater. For this project, the Cologne water company financed the new robot.

Also on a positive side: With the robot clearing the field of weeds, no extra pesticides need to be used.

“We are always a little bit ahead of time,” says Bernd Bulich of the working group Drรผber und Drunter. He thinks that in the future a mix of techniques and devices will be used. With the new robot being a good starting point. At the moment using a robot is still a big investment. Something that farmers need to re-finance on the market. A market that is dominated by tough prices – especially for sugar beets.