Protecting farm workers and improving efficiency through advanced robotics

Regular contact with pesticides makes agriculture one of the most hazardous industries around the globe. To protect farm workers and improve the efficiency and traceability of pesticide application, Yulia Poroshenko of Agrohub, along with Oleg Prihodko (SenseAgro) and Alexander Alfimov (CPCS), are developing Robomix, an automated pesticide-mixing robot. View Halo Profile >>

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Robomix is an advanced robotics solution and the first to provide total control over the pesticide use, mixing and spending. Robomix targets the challenge of establishing a safe and traceable food production process starting from the fields. With the help of Robomix, farmers will be able to raise the efficiency of pesticide application through the complete automation of the process and ensure full traceability as well as precise accounting of the pesticides used. More importantly, farmers will be able to protect the workforce and eliminate any possible injuries related to pesticide poisoning, which can occur during manual mixing.

With the help of Robomix, farmers will be able to raise the efficiency of pesticide application through the complete automation of the process and ensure full traceability as well as precise accounting of the pesticides used.

Robomix unit is the mixing robot that combines a hardware component–the advanced automated mixing scheme with ability to work with up to 10 different pesticides simultaneously–and  software extension, a management system that enables precise tracking of the pesticides applied to each field, their amount, date of application, the person performing the application, etc.

Can you explain that to a non-scientist?

The current technologies of pesticide usage remain highly un-automated and lack sufficient control. As a result, most farmers mix pesticides straight in the field, usually without access to clean water and without protective equipment. This increases the risk of human errors and makes tracking impossible. Incorrect preparation of the pesticides’ solution mix (mixing the wrong proportions or using unclean water) leads to a lack of protection for the crops and can even damage them with overly concentrated mixes. Working with pesticides also involves health hazards and requires high standards of worker safety, which are hard to achieve in the field conditions. In response to this, we developed an automated pesticide mixing robot–Robomix–that addresses all aforementioned challenges in making the correct pesticides for crops protection. Robomix aims to significantly reduce costs and labour intensity while increasing the overall efficiency and safety of pesticide spraying processes.

Why did you choose this area of research?

Workers in agriculture run at least twice the risk of dying on the job as workers in other sectors according to the Assistant Director General of the International Labour Office. 1.3 billion agricultural workers are seriously injured in workplace accidents involving machinery or poisoned by pesticides and other agro-chemicals. Even in developed countries such as Australia, Canada and the United States, agriculture ranks consistently among the most hazardous industries. Robomix was created to eliminate any manual human contact with pesticides during the agro production process. The full automation of the pesticide mixing will protect farm workers from the hazard influence of concentrated chemical substances.

The full automation of the pesticide mixing will protect farm workers from the hazard influence of concentrated chemical substances.

How could your Grants4Ag project someday impact #healthforall #hungerfornone?

Robomix directly contributes to the Untainted Nations Farm-to-Fork Policy Framework, which aims to build a fair, healthy and environmentally friendly food system. Being a part of Green Deal strategy, Robomix benefits are tailored to ensuring the safety of the farm workers, minimizing pesticides wastes and overdoses within the food production process. This ensures safer products and environments. Applying Robomix will allow companies to optimize pesticide expenses, eliminating human mistakes and raising the effectiveness of working solutions.