Robots and artificial intelligence will replace workers on Australia’s first fully automated farm created at a cost of $20 million.
Charles Sturt University in Wagga Wagga will create the “hands-free farm” on a 1,900-hectare property to demonstrate what robots and artificial intelligence can do without workers in the paddock.
Food Agility chief executive Richard Norton said the reality of “hands-free” farming’ was closer than many people realised.
“Full automation is not a distant concept. We already have mines in the Pilbara operated entirely through automation”, he said
“It’s not beyond the realms of possibility that a farmer could be sitting in a study in front of a computer driving multiple vehicles”.
The farm will use robotic tractors, harvesters, survey equipment and drones, artificial intelligence that will handle sowing, dressing and harvesting, new sensors to measure plants, soils and animals and carbon management tools to minimise the carbon footprint.
The farm is already operated commercially and grows a range of broadacre crops, including wheat, canola, and barley, as well as a vineyard, cattle and sheep.
Mr Norton said they would focus initially on autonomous vehicles that could harvest a crop while the farmer slept.
“We might also see mechanical autonomous harvesting in horticultural crops and in grape-growing areas,” Mr Norton said.