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Rise of the Machines?

Research by AgriDirect shows that the use of robots among greenhouse growers in the Netherlands in 2019 has increased compared to last year. At the same time, 1 in 5 greenhouse Dutch growers indicate having a staff shortage more often. But is robotisation the short-term solution for staff shortages?

Robots in greenhouse horticulture

In total, 11% of greenhouse growers in the Netherlands use robots in the greenhouses for cultivation, according to agricultural research company AgriDirect. That is almost 3% more than in 2018. 2.6% of the respondents (1,400 greenhouse growers have answered questions about robots and personnel) say they will invest in robotics in the future.

Spraying robots the most popular

The most commonly used robots in greenhouse horticulture are spraying robots (24.7%). In addition to spraying robots, robots are used for planting and harvesting (22.2%). Packaging robots (11.7%) and stacking robots (3.7%) are also used.

Staff shortage

In the same study, 23% of greenhouse growers indicate that they are more often faced with staff shortages. The question is whether robotisation is the solution to solve the staff shortage.

According to ABN AMRO Insights mechanisation and innovation simply require fewer employees and their number in agriculture has indeed been decreasing for years. Yet this is not always the answer, since the harvest of fruit and vegetables is less easy to mechanise than, for example, arable products.

Long term solution

According to ABN AMRO, robotisation is therefore not the solution for short-term staff shortages: “Although horticulture is innovating, such as the deployment of robots that harvest ripe fruits with the help of image recognition, the applications are still relatively limited and the costs are considerable. Plant breeding could make it easier in the long term to automate the harvesting process. Seen from this perspective, robotisation only offers a solution for the shortage of personnel in the sector in the long term.”

Source: Hortibiz

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This story was published on: 07/12/2019

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