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  • Norfolk Farms

Robotic farming demo day coming July 11 to Simcoe

Updated: Jul 4

Imagine a future where robots will be in the fields pulling weeds. While this might seem like science fiction, it’s coming closer to reality every day.


Torin Boyle

Local farmers can get a preview of this technology at the AgRobotics Working Group’s Demo Days on July 4 and 11. Locally, July 11 will be the day at the Ontario Crops Research Station on Blue Line Road in Simcoe. Pre-registration is required and can be completed at the group’s web site agroboticswg.com


The event will showcase robotics from six different companies. These range from robots that can seed and weed, spray, mow in between rows of trees in an orchard, scout for weeds and estimate yields.


Kristen Obeid of the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Agri-Business was one of the founders of the group with Chuck Baresich of Haggerty Creek Ltd. She said initially the driver for starting the group was resistant weed issues in many horticulture crops resulting in the need for manual labour to remove them.


After Baresich approached the ministry in 2021, the group was formed and began to look into the possibility of using robots and artificial intelligence (A.I.) to solve many problems growers are facing. At the end of the first year, the group was working withfive different robots. That number has now grown to 20 robots working in the province, some on farms and others in research trials, with a goal of reaching 30 by the end of the year. The group’s membership has expanded to over 180 people from all over the world.


The group now includes representation from: OMAFRA, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Municipal Governments, Haggerty AgRobotics, University of Guelph, McMaster University, University of Waterloo, Conestoga College, Ontario Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association (OFVGA), Fresh Vegetable Growers of Ontario (FVGO), Holland Marsh Growers Association (HMGA), Ontario Processing Vegetable Growers (OPVG), Innovative Farmers Association of Ontario (IFAO), Nortera, Korechi Innovations (Oshawa, Ontario), Nexus Robotics (Montreal Quebec), FarmDroid (Denmark), Naio Technologies (France) and Raven Industries (Canada and U.S) and many more.

 

The group’s purpose is not to sell robots, but to provide input on how to improve the machines to work better in Ontario production systems. The group has been really successful at building cross functional teams and finding the right partners to solve important problems growers are facing.


“In the end, it’s all about helping the growers of Ontario remain sustainable, both economically and environmentally,” Obeid said.


Be sure to register to see the robots in action. 

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