Economics of autonomous equipment for arable farms

Lowenberg-DeBoer, J.M., Franklin, K., Behrendt, K. and Godwin, R.J. (2021) Economics of autonomous equipment for arable farms. Precision Agriculture.

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By collecting more data at a higher resolution and by creating the capacity to implement detailed crop management, autonomous crop equipment has the potential to revolutionise precision agriculture (PA), but unless farmers find autonomous equipment profitable it is unlikely to be widely adopted. The objective of this study was to identify the potential economic implications of autonomous crop equipment for arable agriculture using a grain-oilseed farm in the United Kingdom as an example. The study is possible because the Hands Free Hectare (HFH) demonstration project at Harper Adams University has produced grain with autonomous equipment since 2017. That practical experience showed the technical feasibility of autonomous grain production and provides parameters for farm-level linear programming (LP) to estimate farm management opportunities when autonomous equipment is available. The study shows that arable crop production with autonomous equipment is technically and economically feasible, allowing medium size farms to approach minimum per unit production cost levels. The ability to achieve minimum production costs at relatively modest farm size means that the pressure to “get big or get out” will diminish. Costs of production that are internationally competitive will mean reduced need for government subsidies and greater independence for farmers. The ability of autonomous equipment to achieve minimum production costs even on small, irregularly shaped fields will improve environmental performance of crop agriculture by reducing pressure to remove hedges, fell infield trees and enlarge fields.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Autonomous equipment, Robots, Economic feasibility, Economy of size, Grain production
Divisions: Engineering
Food, Land and Agribusiness Management
Depositing User: Mrs Rachael Giles
Date Deposited: 30 Jun 2021 08:36
Last Modified: 30 Jun 2021 08:36

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