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Robot Farmers

30 minutes
First broadcast:
Tuesday 05 February 2013

Satellite technology and advances in robotics are set to revolutionise the future of farming.
Out go the heavy, soil destroying combines and tractors, in come a light army of mini robots which weed, spray and pick crops at the optimum time. Expert agronomists will advise thousands of farmers at a time. Using real data, farmers will be able to maximise the yield and quality of the crops as they leave the field.
Sarah Cruddas meets the scientists engineering the robotic shepherds of the future, and hops into the cab of a self-driving tractor to experience labour and fuel saving precision farming.
She also hears from Science Minister, David Willetts who believes that the UK can become Europe's centre of satellite technology. The data provided will, in the coming years, become more and more detailed enabling farmers to have a greater understanding of their land and allow them to produce yield maps and farm more efficiently than ever before.
Costing The Earth ask if farms of the future will be run by a fleet of robots: from crop-picking automatons to swarms of electronic bees, and whether the farmer of the future be found in a control centre rather than out in a muddy field.
Producer: Martin Poyntz-Roberts.

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