Conference set to hear about world first


17th January 2018

World leading innovation in the farming sector will be showcased at a major agriculture conference in Carnoustie, Angus in February 2018.

The ‘Hands Free Hectare’ project, run by Harper Adams University and Precision Decisions aimed to be the first in the world to plant, tend and harvest a crop with no human foot entering the field. The engineers developed equipment so that all work could be carried out by autonomous machines and drones. They planted a crop of spring barley in March 2017 and successfully harvested it in early September, to achieve a world first, which could have huge ramifications for the way farming practices are developed in the future, in the UK and worldwide.

Project lead Kit Franklin from Harper Adams University co-created the Hands Free Hectare project and will address the Farming Scotland Conference to explain what was achieved, what was learned, and importantly, what the implications are for farming. The possibilities, as technology is further developed, are potentially far reaching. Mr Franklin commented “The Hands Free Hectare project is the first step in breaking down technological barriers to automated field agriculture. We anticipate that automation will facilitate a sustainable system where multiple smaller, lighter machines, will enter the field, minimising the level of soil compaction, while facilitating high resolution precision farming, optimising and potentially reducing the inputs being used infield agriculture”.

Graeme Davidson, Partner at EQ Accountants LLP will chair the conference which is entering its fifteenth year. He commented “Our 2018 conference has a strong focus on innovation and sustainability, and I’m delighted that Kit Franklin is able to come to Scotland to share the experience and knowledge gained by the Hands Free Hectare project during 2017. Our agriculture sector is well known for being at the leading edge of many technological advances so I know that delegates to the conference will be eager to hear about this world first and the possible applications which could follow.”

Mr Franklin and his team are currently assessing their results and are hoping to attract backing to repeat the experiment with a winter crop in 2018.

The Farming Scotland Conference takes place on Thursday, 8 February 2018, at the Carnoustie Golf Hotel. Tickets can be purchased at or by contacting Mary Campbell on 01307 474274.

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