More Autonomous Robots to Hit Farms With Manufacturer’s US Expansion

(Bloomberg) — Startup Solinftec, a maker of autonomous farming robots, has doubled its global capacity as a shortage of agricultural workers boosts the appeal of robots and drones.

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Following a factory expansion in Indiana, the company backed by the billionaire Trajano family can now produce as many as 800 robots a year in the US, matching the 800-a-year capacity already installed in Brazil, Chief Executive Officer Britaldo Hernandez said in an interview. The US corn belt has just 20 of the company’s robots in use this year; that number will double next year and could reach 250 in 2025, he said.

Solinftec’s robots, which run on solar panels, are designed to use AI to analyze crops and weather, then apply weed killer and pesticides only where it’s needed. The robots can reduce herbicide use by more than 95%, it said. So-called precision agriculture that lets farmers use less can simultaneously support margins and the wider environment. The addition of agricultural robots can also help cut costs in what remains a very tight US labor market.

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The company also said Monday it inked partnerships earlier this month with three American cooperatives: Co-Alliance, Carroll Service Co. and Premier Ag.

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Tarso Veloso and Michael Hirtzer