Hands Free Hectare at CropTec

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The Hands Free Hectare (HFHa) has completed its second harvest, but what’s next for the team that has exceeded all expectations?

Jonathan Gill, Mechatronics Researcher said: “We’ve been working on this project for the past two years to really tight deadlines. We’re really pleased with what we’ve achieved; starting out with nothing in October 2016 to being able to drill with the tractor in May 2017, harvesting in the September, and then turning everything round ready to plant the wheat for a second growing season in November.

“For the next year we’re putting a cover crop into the hectare, this will protect the land as we use it as a test space while we continue to improve our technology, which we haven’t been able to do while growing cereal crops in the field.

“During the past two years we’ve come across a number of technological challenges that we simply haven’t had the time to overcome. This next year is a great opportunity to address them.

“We’ll also be taking on new and exciting challenges, including working on our tractor so that it can drive itself from the shed to the field. We plan to integrate technology from self-driving cars and will need to get the tractor interacting with its surroundings, including, for example, the gate so that it opens and closes when the tractor enters the hectare.”

Learn more about the Hands Free Hectare and meet team member Debbie Heeks at the Harper Adams University stand (2.10) at CropTec 2018.

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About Author

Editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer as well as responsibility for the Agronomist and Arable Farmer and Farm Business websites. After 17 years milking cows on the family farm John started writing about agriculture in 1998 and has since written for a variety of publications and has developed a wide circle of contacts within the industry. When not working John is an avid follower of Stoke City.