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.
Digital Farmhand and Swagbot were trialled on an orchard (Apple, Nectarine, Peach) near Bilpin NSW. The team wanted to see how Digital Farmhand and Swagbot would perform in an orchard setting.
Below is a short video montage of the trial.
Digital Farmhand is a modular low-cost platform designed to assist smallholder farmers in improving their productivity, yields and ultimately provide a more reliable income amidst changing markets and climates. In its simplest form it is a small electric tractor-like vehicle that can tow a variety of implements such as seeders, weeders and bed preparation tools. The Digital Farmhand can also use accessible smartphone technologies along with AI to provide crop analytics such as yield estimation, pest and disease identification, as well as precision automation of many labour intensive farm tasks, e.g. weeding, spraying and seeding The ACFR team conducted trials on 3 different farms in Fiji with the Digital Farmhand robotic platform in June 2018.
Below is a short video of the trial and an article from the ABC about the project
This video shows footage from a recent demonstration of the Digital Farmhand robot at Richmond, NSW.
Digital Farmhand is a low cost row crop robot aimed towards helping small scale farmers in Australia & overseas to perform crop analytics and automation of simple farming tasks. The design of the platform is based around the use of cheap low cost sensors, computing and manufacturing techniques which will allow the farmer to easily maintain and modify their platform to suit their needs.
The platform comes with an actuated 3 point hitch mechanism which allows various implements to be attached (similar to a tractor). Currently 4 implements have been manufactured for this platform. These include a sprayer, seeder, tine weeder and tow ball hitch.
More details visit http://sydney.edu.au/acfr/agriculture
On the 23rd of June 2017, ACFR was invited to a Local Land Services NSW field day event to present the work they have done over the last six months on a platform called the Digital Farmhand (Previously referred to as Di-Wheel). The event generated a large amount of interest within the local farming community with over 100 registrations for the event. During the event, the team presented:
- the project overview
- the design concept of the Digital Farmhand
- plant analytics via low-cost sensors (smartphone camera)
- the future vision of the project
- live demonstration of automated row turning via low-cost sensors (smartphone camera)
- live demonstration of a farming implement (spray boom) mounted on the digital farmhand
Below are some photos from the event. Link to news article here hawkesbury gazette
In early October, ACFR conducted a series of field trials in Lembang which is located on the outskirts of the city of Bandung Indonesia with the Di-Wheel robot. The objective of the trip was to investigate how robotics can be can be deployed and utilised in a farming context in a developing country. As part of our investigation, a community of local farmers were interviewed to gain a better understanding of their requirements and their situation. We also visited a variety of engineering firms to understand the engineering capabilities within Bandung to support future field trials in that region.
Below are some videos and photos from the trip.
Tip: Hover cursor over the pictures for the caption
The video shows the di-wheel being demonstrated at Cobbity farm (University of Sydney Campus) on a kale crop row.