Kieran Walsh – Hands Free Hectare Blog Part 2, Drilling Completed

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It’s now been 5 weeks since my last blog and a lot has happened in this short time. The Hands-Free Hectare team at Harper Adams has taken delivery of the sprayer from Precision Decisions and the drill from Simtech.

I also received my first agronomy images and video footage, taken by a drone, from Jonathan Gill . There were close-up pictures and videos to identify the weed spectrum to help decide on a herbicide programme. After ironing out a few technical details, the HFH was sprayed-off just before the Easter break - this was done completely autonomously, ready for the team to set-up the sprayer to apply liquid fertiliser in front of the tractor and get the drill on.

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The day finally arrived, the 25th April 2017, a little later than planned. However, we still went ahead. It was an early start from home to head up to Harper Adams to watch the tractor drive itself up and down the field. This moment has been almost a year in the planning and when I arrrived on site the anticipation and excitement was building, with a little nervousness added in to keep everyone on their toes.

The mission control centre was fired-up and the laptops warmed ready to set the HFH tractor on it’s course. The first run went very well and it was straight.

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We started drilling at 3 pm and the nerves soon disappeared as all was going well. With the tractor coming out of the hectare three times to top up the drill and liquid fertiliser tank, we finished drilling at 9.21 pm. It was one very happy moment to complete the task. We are now all looking forward to the Press day this Friday.

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