The Digital Farmhand comprises of a small mobile platform that can be remotely or autonomously controlled. On the mobile platform exists a smartphone, sensors, and computing. The robot also has a three-point-hitch system which allows the use of farming implements to do activities such as precision seeding, spraying and weeding; and, through its ability to monitoring individual plants, the data it produces has the potential to support better on-farm decision making helping growers increase yield and productivity, reduce input costs, and maximise nutrition security.
As part of the Launch Food program, it was concluded that conducting a pilot study in the Pacific Islands would be ideal because of the need for improving food security in the Pacific Islands and because of the strong alliances between Australia and the Pacific Island community. In this video, we travelled to Samoa to trial the robot on three different farms and conducted a workshop with local farmers to get feedback on how a system like Digital Farmhand could be used in the region.
In addition to the trial our team assessed:
- The current level of digital technology readiness and understanding amongst farmers centred around agriculture;
- The ICT infrastructure currently in place to support platforms like Digital Farmhand; and
- Economic analysis of how current farming practices and how technology could help reduce input costs and increase productivity and yield.