As it expands its presence in the UK, Saga Robotics is redefining the way strawberries are cultivated.

The company has developed an electric-powered robot, Thorvald, which provides a range of automated integrated pest management (IPM) services, including utilising shortwave light to treat plants at night.

By using this technology, strawberry growers can reduce fungicide usage for controlling powdery mildew, while enhancing crop yields and improving disease control.

Saga Robotics chief executive Anne Dingstad says the technology assists farms in their commitment to sustainability because it eliminates the need for diesel operations and reduces reliance on chemical fungicides.

Thorvald can also disperse predatory mites, cut runners and collect data in strawberry systems.

The company is planning to advance the data software technology further by incorporating yield forecasting and
disease detection.

Anne explains the robot will have labour-saving advantages too, cutting costs for growers.

“By implementing the Thorvald platform, growers achieve better control over the crops and contribute to increasing efficiency in food production,’’ she says.

Because the technology is modular, it is scalable, and that flexibility means it can be applied to different products,
customers, crops, and markets.

“This not only provides immediate value, but also allows for future flexibility and profitable innovation opportunities,’’ says Anne.

“Thorvald will continue to evolve, incorporating advanced autonomy features that optimise operational processes for farmers.’’

The robot is currently available to growers through a Farming-as-a-Service (FaaS) model.

Driven by the increasing interest in robotics within the agricultural sector, Saga Robotics has ambitious growth plans in the UK, where it aims to expand its operations and customer base. In 2022, contracts covered one full farm and 30 hectares – 2023 saw a doubling of that acreage. In 2024, Saga Robotics anticipates partnering with approximately 10 growers across the UK, increasing the contract area fourfold.

Its upcoming Thorvald III robot, which will be used in strawberry crops and grapevines, is expected to remove about 70 to 90 per cent of synthetic pesticides used in strawberry and wine production.