1. March 2021 | Magazine:

Spot Farming: Focus on Individual Plants Experimental farming with robots, drones and satellites

Spot farming is a conceptual form of agriculture that puts a more intensive focus on the living and growing conditions of individual crops. This type of crop farming is part of the research in the “Zukunftslabor Agrar” (Future Laboratory Agriculture), which is investigating what the digitalization of agriculture could look like. As part of the Future Lab, the Institute of Mobile Machines and Commercial Vehicles (IMN) at TU Braunschweig is working on simulating spot farming. A summary of what Spot Farming can do can be seen in the video clip.

For spot farming, the arable land is divided into small areas with similar characteristics. Autonomous agricultural machinery manages these areas according to location and individual plants. Spot farming is thus intended to enable sustainable intensification of crop cultivation: Less fertilizer and pesticides are used, while at the same time yields can be increased. Digitalization thus makes agriculture more ecological and economical. Another effect of this approach is that negative environmental effects are reduced. For example, the soil is less compressed because – instead of tractors and conventional agricultural machinery – small and light robots work the fields. Not only robots, but also drones and satellites are used for needs-based cropping: they regularly monitor the condition of the plants and signal, for example, whether nutrients need to be added.

On the subject of spot farming, the “Zukunftslabor Agrar”, under the responsibility of the Center for Digital Innovations Lower Saxony (ZDIN), held a panel discussion on 26 January 2021. Prof. Dr. Ludger Frerichs and Dr. Jan Schattenberg from the Institute of Mobile Machines and Commercial Vehicles (IMN) from the Technische Universität Braunschweig took part in the discussion.

Within the framework of the Zukunftslabor Agrar, the IMN is working in a sub-work package on issues such as how digitization can be used for agriculture, how the complex interrelationships can be mapped in a digital twin, and how the approach of spot farming can thus be investigated in a simulative manner.