Ultra-Violet light is having a moment because of its germ and virus killing capabilities. While there is a lot of interest in using UV light inside food delivery lockers and vehicles, a Norwegian company called Saga Robotics is using UV light to kill off mildew on crops like strawberries and grapes.
We came across Saga’s robotic platform this week via a story in The Finger Lake Times. Saga’s technology is being used to combat Erysiphe necator in local vineyards. Erysiphe necator is a powdery mildew that attacks a range of plants and can thrive in areas with high humidity and moderate temperatures.
Dubbed “Thorvald,” the autonomous robot can be outfitted with a bank of lights that shine UV rays on plants to help kill the mildew. The trick, however, is that the light treatment must be done close to nightfall because the darkness inhibits the mildew from repairing itself. You can read a deeper explanation of the process and its history at The Finger Lake Times.
What’s interesting about Saga’s technology is that it kills this mildew without a pesticide, so you can reduce the amount of chemicals used in the growing process. Because the Saga robot is self-driving, you can have it run autonomously and don’t need to divert labor and other resources towards spraying.
Saga is part of a bigger wave of agriculture robotics hitting farms. Augean Robotics makes the Burro, which hauls equipment and crops around a farm. And Small Robotics Company has a trio of robots in development to help around the farm including one that zaps weeds with electricity.
This type of automation should hopefully usher in an era of precision agriculture that is more efficient with water usage and less reliant on harsh chemicals. That is something we’ll gladly shine a light on.