Hyderabad: Robots aid farm-fresh veggies at home

Deccan Chronicle.  | Geeta Valaboju

Nation, Current Affairs

To a certain extent, the technology is similar to that of autonomous cars.

A picture of the robotic farming device installed in the garden.

Hyderabad: If you are looking for fresh vegetables untainted by insecticides and pesticides, robotic farming is the way to go.

Robotic cultivation, also known as ‘square feet farming’ and ‘procession farming’, uses a robot-based system and can be done in small spaces such as balconies, terraces and backyards.

For crop farming, robots need to autonomously navigate their environment and perform actions at set locations, for example, picking a fruit, spraying a pesticide, planting a seed, imaging a plant, or making a measurement.  The ground is often fitted with tracks which the robots follow to reach the target locations. The robots are wirelessly connected to a central operator to both receive updated instructions regarding the mission, and report status and data.

To a certain extent, the technology is similar to that of autonomous cars. Where it differs is that farming robots often need to manipulate their environment, picking vegetables or fruits, applying pesticides in a localised manner, or planting seeds. All these tasks require sensing, manipulation, and processing of their own. The robots navigate plant rows, sense the plants, and send the data to the farmers to help optimise seed breeding. Once the field is ready, it sends a notification to the farmer.

The only time the farmer needs to lay his lands on the crops is when it is being harvested, said Mr Manmohan from Opul Cyber Solutions Pvt Ltd, which is implementing the system.

“The system costs up to Rs 2.5 lakh with a warranty of 15 years.  There are 120 varieties that can be cultivated with the help of robotic farming.

It can be done from anywhere in the world through technology, as a camera is inserted which gives current feedback.

 Some 30 varieties of vegetables can be grown in an area of 1.5 metres by 3 metres, which is sufficient for four people. Double that number of varieties of vegetables can be raised in a plot of 1.5 metres by 6 metres,” he said.

Ms Satyawani, who lives in the MLA Quarters and has opted for robotic farming. Over a period of three months she has raised 20 varieties of vegetables and fruits. “With no human interference this seems easier for busy working people. We go to supermarkets where we get vegetables sprayed with chemicals which have lost their taste. We got the idea of implementing robotic farming on our terrace.  It is now surprising to see 20 varieties of fresh, chemical-free, non-toxic veggies and fruits which are healthier,” she says.

This type of farming is best suited to people living in independent houses with open spaces or gardens around and where there will be no need of any third person interference.

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