Serving the Farming Industry across the Midlands for 35 Years
Machinery giant AGCO says it has further enhanced its next generation of Fendt field robots as part of a strategic research project.
  • New highly accurate seed units
  • Seed depth varied to conditions
  • Sensors will measure soil quality

Machinery giant AGCO says it has further enhanced its next generation of Fendt field robots as part of a strategic research project.

Following extensive testing, the new series of Xaver sowing robots includes completely new inner workings and seed units. Researchers at the company have been working on the technology and robotics since 2017.

Ecological benefits such as low ground pressure and energy consumption, zero noise pollution, leaks or emissions, are playing an increasingly important role in a modern agriculture, says Fendt.

Smart Farming techniques will eventually replace manual field operations, adds the company. The elimination of monotonous work will pave the way for more sustainably produced food, it adds.

Precision planting

“Through precision planting, we have been able to draw on the AGCO Group’s agronomy expertise and proven technology to pro- duce our seed sowing robots,” says Benno Pichlmaier, Fendt’s director of global technology and innovation. “We were able to adapt the modules of the first Xaver generation and combine them with the new seed unit. Proven concepts have been combined with the innovative robotics design, which has led to a new, integrated system.”

Three-wheel concept

The robots are said to space the seed with utmost precision. With the help of an electrically driven control system, individual seeds are deposited with centimetre-accuracy at a pre-defined distance in the row.

Seeds are dropped in the furrow by a flexible firmer. In the future, sensors will measure soil moisture, temperature, organic soil content and plant residues. This varies the seed depth and seed rate according to the local conditions.

Based on a three-wheeled concept, robot compacts the soil gently to the side and above the seed, closing the soil around the seed to preserve moisture and initiate germination. The last wheel is the drive wheel, which also acts as a gauge wheel.

The latest generation of the field robot is also equipped with a lane guidance system, which controls the vehicle with centimetre- accuracy. Field data is exchanged seamlessly between the robot and database, making light work of decision-making.

“The cornerstones of our swarm system are scalability in terms of investment costs and impact, minimising failure risks from robot redundancy, and integrating autonomy and precision farming,” says Dr Pichlmaier.

“It ‘maps’ all the useful crops in the field, and we can use this for all our follow-up work, such as plant protection, mechanical weed control and fertilisation – regardless of whether this is done by robots or tractors.

“Going forward, we will use the imminent implementation of the digital strategy with a 5G network expansion in Germany and worldwide. The robots will feature future Farming 4.0 functions even with larger and more dynamic data volumes.”