For several decades, Metsätaimitarhapäivät (Forest Seedling Days) have brought together forestry experts from across Finland, creating a valuable platform for discussions on industry-related themes. This year, we participated for the first time as robotics experts, invited by the event organizer, Kekkilä.
Our Sales Manager, Maria Ruottinen, attended the Forest Seedling Days in Kuopio on January 16, 2024. Experts engaged in discussions on crucial topics and challenges facing the industry, with a particular focus on the role of automation and robotics in overcoming these challenges.
Collaboration for the Future of Our Forests
The event represented the whole industry, from research to production and end customers. For example, the Natural Resources Institute of Finland (LUKE) and seedling and seed breeders work closely together. Utilizing LUKE’s research data on pests, plant protection, planting methods, and environmental changes is vital for these growers.
Cooperation is particularly valuable for the preservation, protection and use of our forests. Robotics expertise was warmly welcomed.
– The reception was excellent, and I felt welcomed while presenting the possibilities of robotics. Hopefully, in the coming years, we can bring automation to this industry and collaborate on numerous development projects, Maria rejoices.
Robotics for Aid in Forest Seedling Nurseries
In plant nurseries, automation is well suited to common tasks such as logistics, packing and unloading.
– The packing lines in some forest nurseries are already highly automated. Packing is done on a very short time scale, so that a palletising robot, for example, would only be used once a year for a few weeks. Therefore, when designing a robotic cell, it is worth thinking about mobile operation, so that the robot can serve in more than one work step.
The most laborious task in seedling cultivation is weeding.
– This step is done in greenhouses and in the field, and it’s not very simple to automate, Maria says.
Moving plant pallets in greenhouses has proven to be a challenging task. Lifting large pallets several meters into growing areas is laborious, and robots are a great way to help with this kind of challenge.
The scale of robots in plant breeding is large, and the event also showcased mobile robot development and research by larger machine manufacturers. The conceptual images of a small mobile robot transporting a few seedlings sparked amusing discussions among the audience.
– In the presentation, the concept images of a cute and small mobile robot carrying a few seedlings as a representation caused amusement and lively discussions in the audience. Someone even suggested that it should be more like a Terminator-style mobile robot, Maria laughs.
Robotics and Agricultural Automation
In summary, Forest Seedling Days offered an in-depth overview of the current state and future possibilities of forest nurseries. Inspiring perspectives on the role of robotics generated positive discussions and motivated the community toward embracing automation.
Various tasks related to agriculture automation and robotics are familiar to the Probot team through EU projects. For example, the field robot developed in the AgROBOfood and FlexiGroBots projects serves as assistance in agricultural challenges. Currently, we are developing a virtual user interface and a digital twin for agriculture in the Agrarsense project.
We eagerly await the opportunities that the future holds for the collaboration between forest nurseries and robotics.
Probot Oy – Specialist in Robotics.