Robots Bring Fast, Safer And Cost-Effective Strawberry Farming Methods

Saga Robotics is growing across the country when it comes to strawberry production, especially with Thorvald. “Saga Robotics is operating on an area four times larger than last season, thanks to strategic expansion and collaboration with nine of the most innovative and leading strawberry growers across Great Britain,” they announced.

Thorvald began its journey within the robotics group at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences. Based on a foundation of strong partnerships, Thorvald works with farms, greenhouses, tunnels, orchards, and vineyards.

They want to turn farming into a more service-oriented industry that is more profitable for growers and produces food that is cheaper and better quality while still being healthier.

The New Thorvald 3 Robot

The latest Thorvald 3 is their multifunctional robot that is helping create safer crop management for the country. Thorvald 3 moves around fields on its own, taking on important jobs like planting seeds, spraying crops, and collecting useful data. This lets farmers spend less time on routine tasks and more on planning and improving their farms.

Sage Robotics elaborates, “Notably, a single Thorvald 3 robot over its lifetime is equivalent to the annual greenhouse gas absorption of around 3,000 mature trees, reducing approximately 150 tonnes of emissions.”

How Else Is The Thorvald 3 Saving Strawberries?

Through the use of UV-C light during the night, Thorvald gets rid of plant diseases, with powdery mildew being one of them. This then eliminates the need for pesticides to get rid of disease, making the strawberries less harmful for consumption in the end.

How it works is simple; strawberry plants are exposed to shortwaves every week at night. This is also great because costs are reduced, therefore valuable for farmers.

Thorvald Partners With A University

Together with the University of Lincoln, Thorvald also develops systems for collecting valuable data and forecasting crops. Data is collected, then using systems like machine learning, early disease detections can be made.

Thorvald has a few more services such as their predator distribution system. It releases a certain amount of beneficial insects like predatory mites to get rid of pests in a more natural way.

Success Stories Across The Industry

Saga reports that they have reduced the use of pesticides for customers by 60-90%, with a 40% return on investment, making it clearly useful for strawberry farmers.

Sandy Booth, owner of a company that uses the robot, shared, “Moving our focus towards using non-chemical crop protection via robotic technology will help to protect the environment as we strive towards achieving our goals for innovation and sustainability.”

How Are Robots Helping Pick And Harvest Strawberries?

Robots are also helping with the actual task of picking and harvesting strawberries around the world. Though strawberry picking is a fun activity when done in moderation, this is usually a tedious task for farmers who are having to pick tonnes of strawberries at a time.

Companies like Tortuga AgTech have made robots that move between rows of strawberries, using cameras to spot and pick the ripe ones without harming the plants. Similarly, Organifarms has created BERRY, a robot that can pick strawberries directly into sale containers without touching the fruit, for improved speed and hygiene.

On the other hand, Advanced Farm uses robotic arms equipped with silicone hands to gently twist strawberries from their stems to speed up the process. These are all very niche, yet valuable technologies that are coming from the robotics industry.