Scientists at the University of Plymouth are developing ground-breaking technology which could assist fruit and vegetable growers with the challenges they face in harvesting crops.
Increasing demand for home grown produce, coupled with concern about workforce shortages in the wake of Brexit, are leaving farmers across the UK facing a unique set of pressures.
To try and overcome this, researchers are working with producers in Cornwall to create robots which can work alongside existing workforces and ensure any gaps in productivity are filled.
The Automated Brassica harvesting in Cornwall (ABC) project is being led by Lecturer in Robotics Dr Martin Stoelen, with key agricultural expertise provided by Professor of Plant Physiology Mick Fuller. It also involves strategic partner Teagle Machinery Ltd in Truro, and partners Riviera Produce in Hayle and CNC Design Ltd in St Columb Major.
It has secured funding from Agri-Tech Cornwall, a three-year, £10million initiative part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund, with match-funding from Cornwall Council.
Dr Stoelen has previously developed technology that can harvest tomatoes, raspberries and sugar snap peas, and is now refocusing that to assist with the picking of cauliflower, broccoli, kale and cabbage, which are extensively grown in Cornwall.