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From harvesting tomatoes to grafting fish, agricultural robots show the future of farming

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The focus was on weeding robots, vertical farming robots, strawberry harvesting robots, underwater inspection robots, fish vaccination robots and disinfection robots.

The competition, jointly organized by the Chinese Society for Artificial Intelligence, the National Agricultural Information Engineering Research Center, South China Agricultural University and Pinduoduo, aimed to encourage academic researchers to innovate in the field of agricultural robotics and develop mature commercial products that can help boost the rural economy.

The potential of agricultural robots to increase farming efficiency and replace human labor is particularly attractive to agricultural nations from the United States to Japan, all of which have funded research projects to develop the technology. Market research firm Tractica estimates that the global market for agricultural robots will be worth $74 billion by 2024.

China, which faces the challenge of producing more food on limited land and with a dwindling and ageing agricultural workforce, has issued guidelines to encourage investment in 13 agricultural and rural sectors, including smart agriculture, as part of its efforts to boost agricultural modernisation.

One of the winners of the competition was a team from the Beijing Agricultural Intelligent Equipment Technology Research Center, which demonstrated a tomato planting robot. The machine has reduced the amount of human labor in plant spraying and pollination, inspection and transportation, said team leader Lin Sen.

The robot’s operating system has been widely used at the Shandong Shouguang Smart Agricultural Science and Technology Park and can achieve a success rate of more than 90% in picking and pollination, Lin said.

Another application that attracted a lot of attention was an automatic vaccination machine for fish developed by Zhejiang University professor Li Jianping.

Li said the robot uses deep learning technology to intelligently identify the optimal injection position of a fish fry. Currently, the injection efficiency reaches 1,200 fish per hour, with a success rate of more than 99% and a survival rate of 90% a month after injection, he said.

For Pinduoduo, the competition’s co-sponsorship is part of its ongoing efforts to promote the development and commercialization of agricultural technology to help farmers increase their productivity and improve their livelihoods.

As China’s largest agricultural and food retail platform, Pinduoduo is closely involved in improving the safety and quality of the food its customers buy and the conditions of the farmers who sell through its platform. Precision farming can reduce the overuse of pesticides and fertilizers, and reduce the waste of scarce resources such as water.

Today, Pinduoduo organized a smart farming competition where strawberry farmers competed against teams of data scientists to demonstrate the potential of precision farming to increase yields and incomes.

Format: https://www.agritechtomorrow.com/article/2021/07/from-picking-tomatoes-to-vaccinating-fish-agricultural-robots-show-future-of-farming/13001/