MetoMotion’s GRoW: Pioneering the Next Era of Greenhouse Efficiency
Today’s greenhouses have evolved from simple shelters for plants into innovative, technology-driven systems addressing the global challenge of food security.
Advanced climate control tools have made it possible to maintain perfect temperatures year-round, Automated irrigation systems don’t just water plants; they ensure optimal hydration, optimizing water usage and conserving up to 30% more water than traditional methods.
With an increasing global population, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) projects that global food production needs to increase by nearly 70% by 2050. Modern greenhouses, equipped with the latest technologies, are gearing up to meet this demand. An essential part of this solution is harnessing advanced lighting, ensuring plants receive adequate light for growth even during overcast days, and boosting productivity by 20% during periods of insufficient natural sunlight.
This article will explore the role of greenhouse robotics and its contribution to greenhouse efficiency.
The Growing Importance of Agricultural Robotics in Europe
Europe’s agricultural sector is at a crossroads. As the continent grapples with an aging working population, the availability of labor for intensive tasks, such as those in greenhouses, is becoming scarcer. According to Eurostat, by 2050, nearly 28% of the European population will be aged 65 or older1, signaling a broader trend of an aging workforce. While not all older individuals exit the labor force, industries like agriculture, demanding physical effort, see a sharper decline in worker availability.
To compensate, many European nations have turned to foreign labor to bridge this gap. However, this solution brings its own set of challenges. Not only are there regulatory hurdles to employing foreign workers, but the associated costs have also been steadily rising2. This has made it essential for the sector to look for innovative solutions.
Agricultural robotics has emerged as a beacon of hope in this scenario. By integrating automated systems farms can ensure consistent labor that’s not bound by human limitations. The robotic solutions don’t tire, require no visa, and can operate in conditions that might be challenging for human workers. With labor costs representing a significant percentage of operational expenses for many farms, agricultural robots present a promising path towards both economic viability and sustainable farming in Europe.
Introducing MetoMotion’s GRoW
Labor, especially in greenhouse operations, can be challenging. Considering that labor costs can sometimes eat up half of the total operational budget, the need for efficient and consistent labor is evident. This is the gap MetoMotion aims to bridge with its GRoW robot.
- Automation: The GRoW robot is designed to handle a multitude of tasks, from pruningpicking to packing harvesting. By automating these tasks, greenhouses can expect a potential drop in labor costs, sometimes up to 50%.
- Precision and Accuracy: GRoW’s mechanism is designed to be precise. This precision means that each plant gets the exact care it needs. This level of care can result in better yields and diminished wastage.
- Consistent Operation: Machines don’t tire out. GRoW operates 24/7, ensuring that tasks are not just completed, but they’re completed on time, every time.
- Smooth Integration: One of GRoW’s significant advantages is its ability to fit seamlessly into current greenhouse operations. This design ensures that the transition to using GRoW is as smooth as possible, ensuring no loss of productivity during the transition phase.
- Advanced Crop Management: A dashboard provides data on the performance of the GRoW robot during the last week and the expected performance from the upcoming week. With detailed information about yield rates and fruit ripeness the rower can plan better and optimize harvesting output so that it is aligned with commercial and operational goals of the greenhouse.
GRoW’s Real-World Impact
Let’s delve into some tangible data to understand GRoW’s impact better, using an example of 5-hectare greenhouse. Before the introduction of GRoW, let’s the following:
- Labor hours of 1,800 to 2,600 hours per year
- Average hourly labor cost of €25. Please note that this varies significantly based on location. In areas where there is a lack of domestic labor, there is additional cost associated with recruitment and travel for foreign workers.
- Annual tomato harvest labor cost is between €45,000 and €57,500 per hectare or between €225,000 and €287,500 for 5 hectares.
If we assume that the agricultural robot reduces labor costs by 80%, this accounts for between €180,000 and €230. 000 for 5 hectares, less the cost of the robots.
This improvement isn’t just about numbers. There are additional benefits from AI-based software for advanced crop management that lead to an improvement in yield rates.
Conclusion: The Road Ahead for Greenhouses
Greenhouses, once basic structures, have now transformed into technological fortresses addressing a global challenge. Innovations like MetoMotion’s GRoW robot are crucial in this transformation. As the world braces for the future, the combination of technology and agriculture, epitomized by solutions like GRoW, will be at the forefront of ensuring global food security.
- Eurostat. “Ageing Europe – statistics on population developments.” 2020. ↩
- European Commission. “Labour Market and Wage Developments in Europe.” 2020.