Robots farm more sustainably than humans

A California-based company is developing an artificial intelligence solution to the carbon footprint of agriculture

Pathway to COP26 report

Robots could farm more sustainably than traditional agriculture – with the help of artificial intelligence (AI).

That’s the view of Silicon Valley start-up Iron Ox, which has set an aim to help make the global agriculture sector carbon negative.

The agricultural technology company currently has two robots growing crops using a hydroponic system in its California-based greenhouse.

Hydroponic farming involves growing plants without soil – using mineral nutrient solutions in a water solvent.

The system uses AI to make sure that all the crops get the correct amount of water, sunshine and nutrients.

As the levels required are mathematically calculated by the robots, Iron Ox claims its farm produces far less waste; only using the amount of water the plants really need.

Data is then collected each time so that the robots can learn what the plants need to further reduce the carbon footprint.

The company has just secured investment of around £38 million from people including Bill Gates.

Brandon Alexander, CEO, said: “To really eliminate waste, to really get to that next level of sustainability and impact, we have to rethink the entire grow process.”

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