A robotic device to safely sample grain in storage is being developed as part of a £250,000 project to prevent post-harvest losses.
The project, supported by Innovate UK, involves technology start-up company Crover Ltd, farmers’ co-operative East of Scotland Farmers (ESF), and the Edinburgh-based Agri-EPI Centre – one of four centres of agricultural innovation across the UK.
The robot, known as Crover, will be trialled at ESF, a farm in Northumberland and on a number of the Agri-EPI Centre’s partner farms over the next 18 months.
“Like a plane’s wings in air, or a boat’s rotor in water, the patented technology behind our Crover robot allows it to fluently swim through bulk solids, like cereals and grains, monitoring their condition while they are still in storage and without leaving any grain unchecked,” said Crover Ltd’s managing director, Lorenzo Conti.
“Our aim is to improve grain storage systems, helping to build the resilience of the grain supply chain and the wider global food system.”
He said current grain sampling systems could only reach near the surface, however the robot was able to safely sample grain bulks at various depths.
Agri-EPI Centre chief executive, Dave Ross, said: “Cereal grains are the basis of staple food, yet post-harvest losses during long-term storage are significant and high.
“Through this new and very exciting collaboration, the partners will blend their technological and industry expertise to investigate how the Crover can respond to that challenge by working effectively in commercial grain storage sites, with potentially huge benefits to the agri-food industry and wider society.”
He said each Crover is expected to be able to save a total of 380 tonnes of grain – wheat and barley – each year.