'Farmers may soon find their work a bit more relaxed as a team of researchers at the Harper Adams University in the U.K. is in the process of developing miniature robots that would help them harvest crops and apply pesticides. According to the researchers, the miniature robots show potential in cutting excessive pesticide use, curbing food waste, and easing labor shortages. The experts estimate that the technology would be ready in as early as 2020.
The developers stress that the miniature robots will be primed for field work and apply pesticides on crops that really need it. According to the researchers, the technology is a stark contrast to the current application process called “spray and pray” where the pest control chemical is blanketed over the entire field and not given to specific plants. The experts note that the current process wastes 95 to 99 percent of pesticides and herbicides. The scientists add that the new technology is slated to apply 100 percent of the pesticide directly on the targeted crop.
“Farmers have been heavily reliant for decades on the heavy use of pesticides. Some spraying is very desperate. Farmers are spraying [chemicals] to which there is resistance. They will not be killing pests as the pests have evolved resistance. They will be killing other insects [such as pollinators],” explains Toby Bruce, professor of insect chemical ecology at Keele University in the U.K.'
Read more: Engineers are developing robot farmers that may make widespread pesticide spraying obsolete
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