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Agriculture, horticulture and robotics – the future of farming in 2021

 
 
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We asked our Eagle Labs Farm partner, the University of Lincoln, about their predictions for key trends in 2021.

At Lincoln Agri-Robotics (LAR), spanning the Lincoln Institute for Agri-food Technology (LIAT) and the Lincoln Centre for Autonomous Systems (L-CAS), at the University of Lincoln, we research and develop innovative engineering and process solutions for the agri-food pipeline, with a focus on arable crops (e.g. wheat) and horticulture (e.g. strawberries and garden vegetables). Collaborating with colleagues from academia and industry, within the UK and internationally, we address critical real-world problems by applying and advancing a range of state-of-the-art intelligent and robotic technologies across the ‘farm to fork’ food chain. We are particularly well-known for our contributions in robotic soft fruit monitoring and harvesting, soil and environment science, automated weed identification and wheat phenotyping (understanding of the complex physiological and genetic traits of wheat adaptability). These activities are facilitated and supported by a range of contemporary technologies, including data analytics, image processing, machine learning, yield forecasting, crop modelling, robot team coordination and human-robot collaboration.

Our research is guided by the question: How can we build intelligent, integrated, sustainable and practical agri-food systems that support growers and respect our environment?

The ‘big ideas’ we are pursuing at Lincoln Agri-Robotics in the year ahead include:

  • Intelligent Robotics—developing smart, automated and robotic solutions for real-world farm and food production problems to address challenges accelerated by Brexit and Covid-19. We aim to design robust engineering solutions that will provide consistent, repeatable performance in support of a range of agricultural tasks, in the field and in the pack house, advancing computer vision and innovative sensing approaches, robotic manipulation devices and control methods, data-backed decision making and human-in-the-loop systems.

  • Digital Integration—considering the global context for agriculture and horticulture production, designing solutions to facilitate doing more with less. We aim to evolve methods that respect our soils, water and biodiversity and ensure that we have resilient food and farming systems which deliver end-to-end across the ‘farm to fork’ value chain.

  • Sustainable Innovation—considering the global context for agriculture and horticulture production, designing solutions to facilitate doing more with less. We aim to evolve methods that respect our soils, water and biodiversity and ensure that we have resilient food and farming systems which deliver end-to-end across the ‘farm to fork’ value chain.

Our development strategy features design for long term growth and adaptability, as markets and the world change, co-creating with farmers and agri-food industry partners to develop practical, lean, sustainable, affordable, technology-enhanced and deployable solutions to real-world challenges impacting the agri-food sector currently and in the future.

Building an intelligent, connected, sustainable, technology-enhanced, global farming ecosystem – an exciting ‘big idea’ for 2021 and beyond!


Our research and development team is happy to discuss current problems you may be facing today or anticipating for tomorrow, to brainstorm solutions and co-create collaborative opportunities. Please email our research staff.

Lincoln Agri-Robotics (LAR)

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