Robot tractors could solve Brexit labour shortages, says expert

Driverless vehicles could be the answer to labour shortages in farming after Brexit

Farmers could begin users driverless vehicles to help them

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Driverless vehicles could help farmers avoid shortages of labour after Brexit, according to an expert in agricultural technology.

A National Farmers Union (NFU) survey has revealed 66% of growers expected fewer workers to be available by 2018.

However, Professor Simon Blackmore told the House of Lords' Science and Technology Select Committee that driverless vehicles could "replace significant numbers" of seasonal workers.

He added: "Farmers dealing with high-value crops right now are using seasonal labour, and with the advent of Brexit and possible limitations on seasonal labour, a lot of the farmers I'm speaking to are very, very nervous.

"There is this opportunity to be able to replace significant numbers of seasonal workers with highly automated machines."

Professor Blackmore did admit that these changes would mean current tractor drivers would have to learn new skills to operate the new machines.

He made the comments after the committee invited him to give evidence for their inquiry into driverless vehicles. 

Blackmore also revealed that: "The farmers that I'm talking to believe intuitively that this is a good thing, that we need to do this."

Committee chair Lord Selborne agreed that: "autonomous vehicles are being developed for a range of different purposes and have the potential to bring great benefits across a range of different sectors."