Ann Dingstad, CEO of Saga Robotics: Increased adoption of ag robots as more farmers 'get' them

Ann Dingstad, CEO of Saga Robotics: Increased adoption of ag robots as more farmers ‘get’ them

In 2021, Saga Robotics launched Thorvald, an autonomous robotic platform focused on reducing powdery mildew through UV treatment. In August of this year, Anne Dingstad, who until then had been Saga Robotics’ chief financial officer, was chosen as the company’s new CEO.

Under the leadership of Ann Dingstad, Saga Robotics It aims to expand its market, expand its reach and build a strong process to create value for shareholders and the community. We spoke to Anne Dingstad about the present and future of Saga Robotics, ag robots, and the Thorvald platform.

The text continues below the video

Saga is currently focusing, with the Thorvald Platform, on strawberries and grapevines. Why these crops in particular?

“Thorvald is an autonomous platform that can perform many functions. We started with a series of preventative services such as powdery mildew control with UV light, and strawberries and grapes are particularly susceptible to powdery mildew; it’s also a relatively easy shape and size to build a robot to work around and on its side.”

We develop accurate, data-driven services for productivity prediction, early and accurate disease detection, and tools such as micro-sprayers and combine harvesters.

Over the past few years, it has become clear that a robot that emits UV-C light to a strawberry and vine plant can also be used to disperse benefits, and cut off runners. These are now in commercial use as well and we are developing accurate, data-driven services for productivity prediction, early and accurate disease detection, and tools such as precision sprayers and harvesters.”

The text continues below the image

Ann Dingstad: “There are a lot of fresh produce growers who would welcome increased efficiency, using technology to prevent or fix plant health issues and helping to do some of the heavy lifting when it comes to harvesting.” Photo: Saga Robotics

What tasks can the Thorvald platform perform?

“The main task that is currently being done is UV light therapy for powdery mildew prevention, however, as mentioned earlier, we are marketing the next range of services. So UV-C is really just a starting point.

Caring for strawberries from initial planting to harvesting requires a number of repetitive tasks that are great for robots. This includes treating pests and dispersing benefits, but we can also perform a variety of daily/regular maintenance tasks such as cutting and spraying, as well as collecting and sharing data on plant health (or ill health) and assisting at harvest time with additional knowledge about when and where fruit is picked and transported from shredder to packing house”.

How many Thorvald robots are currently in use worldwide?

“Today there are more than 50 Thorvald robots in operation, in five different countries. In a few years in the UK alone, there will be hundreds as we help more and more farmers become more and more efficient, allowing robots to do useful intelligent work and simple tasks time consuming “.

What other crops will you focus on using the Thorvald platform?

“Right now we are focusing specifically on strawberries but we see opportunities with a number of other fruits, vegetables and ornamentals that share similar vulnerabilities and biological issues. There are plenty of fresh growers who welcome increased efficiency, using technology to prevent or fix plant health issues and help in doing some heavy work when it comes to harvesting.”

The text continues below the image

According to Anne Dingstad, it has become clear over the past few years that a robot that emits UV-C light to strawberry and vine plants can also be used to disperse benefits, and cut runners.  Photo: Saga Robotics
According to Anne Dingstad, it has become clear over the past few years that a robot that emits UV-C light to strawberry and vine plants can also be used to disperse benefits, and cut runners. Photo: Saga Robotics

Do you offer Thorvald as a robot as a service?

“Today, Thorvald offers its services through the agriculture-as-a-service model, which means that limited capital investment is required of farmers, giving them low risk and high flexibility.”

What sets Saga Robotics and the Thorvald platform apart from other manufacturers?

“Thorvald has been in commercial service for several years already. We are world leaders in what we do and can be a scalable technology partner to a range of soft fruit growers, horticulture and viticulture, enabling them to increase yield sustainably.

We do this by seeing the world through the eyes of a farmer and helping them add more efficiencies across their business. We provide a range of services across the farm fresh produce, including UV-C treatment, dispersal of benefits, spraying (/dispersion) and runner cutting tools and we develop accurate data-driven services for productivity prediction, early disease detection and tools such as precision sprayers and harvesters . “

What do you think is needed to accelerate the adoption of robots in agriculture?

“It seems like this is a service whose time has come: technology advances, numbers pile up and we have a lot of talented people approaching us, looking forward to being involved in what we’re doing and recognizing immediate opportunity and near-future ability.

The pace of adoption is already accelerating as more farmers “get” it and want to feel the benefits in their business.

The pace of adoption is already accelerating as more farmers “get” it and want to feel the benefits in their business. We also have, of course, a technology that is constantly evolving, which enhances the proposal in all respects.

In the next five years, an ever-widening group of soft fruit growers will have a growing list of uses to support the robot, not least because labor issues are unlikely to be resolved quickly and easily.

So I expect farmers who want to help with integrated pest management, cutting, spraying, transporting and harvesting, with data-driven accuracy, will be able to “automate their farms” and have a fleet of Thorvalds helping them maximize their production while cutting waste, chemical use and carbon emissions.” .

The text continues below the video

Lack of employment hurts business. Should governments help spur adoption of robots?

“Soft fruit farms will undoubtedly need labor for many years to come, particularly when it comes to picking, but I think a lot of people are increasingly understanding that robots can provide a lot of support to farmers and pickers.

Governments can help by helping to ensure that skilled workers continue to be widely available for fruit picking, while encouraging and helping to fund technology adoption across the sector.”

#Ann #Dingstad #CEO #Saga #Robotics #Increased #adoption #robots #farmers

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *