“We will become a platform for different automation-type technologies; it’s just about finding the right technology partners to build modules on top of our robot,” says Christopher Thomasen, CEO of Seasony.
Kirill Zelenski, CEO of iFarm EMEA, notes: “We aim to improve labor costs saving while using robots, working together to make farms more clean and profitable, and synergy between both companies.” iFarm, a Finnish vertical farming company, is collaborating with Seasony, an agtech robot supplier, to remedy labor costs and improve efficiency in vertical farms.
From left to right: Kirill Zelenski (CEO of iFarm EMEA), Mamoun Gharbi, (Lead Engineer at Seasony) and Carlos Corchado Miralles, (Robotics Developer at Seasony)
Established in 2018, Seasony’s mission is to provide robotic solutions to vertical farms to reduce labor costs, human errors, and pest/disease transmission. The company’s flagship robot was named Watney, a scissor lift-type of solution that self-drives based on paths (made by calculating the most optimal path for each trip by itself) and can transport trays to and from systems. As co-founder and CEO Christopher Weis Thomasen explains, Watney is a modular system onto which other modules can be added to further increase the robot’s capabilities.
“The robot is designed to take pictures of the crop and handle plant trays and benches. We built these simple top modules, then went to the market and asked other technology providers to join our ecosystem of solutions,” says Christopher. “We’re currently talking to robotics companies about the possibility of adding a robotic arm to our robot, for example.”
Seasony forming partnerships for trials, next iterations
In 2021, Seasony worked diligently to form strategic partnerships that would allow the company to get its robotic solutions into vertical farms. Among the partnerships formed is one with iFarm, a Finnish agtech company that provides turnkey vertical farming systems, its Growtune SaaS platform for vertical farm management, and individual components. In November, Seasony shipped its robot Watney to iFarm’s research farm outside of Helsinki.
“The iFarm research farm will be a great place for us to test our features before moving to a large-scale farm. We think our robotic solution will make the most sense for farms above 1,000 square meters in area,” explains Christopher.
Knowledge gained from its partnership with iFarm, among others, will be critical for the second iteration of its robotic solution, which Seasony plans to deliver by March 2022. An estimated 10 robots will be produced in 2022.
Automated solutions providing continuity in data analysis
By reducing human traffic in a vertical farm, robotics provides multiple benefits such as reduced labor costs, improved precision, and lower risk of pest and disease entry. An added benefit is that robotic solutions provide growers with a continuous and reliable data collection and analysis tool while mitigating the risk of lost knowledge as the labor force changes.
“In most farms, a lot of time is spent on crop walks which gives that person a lot of experience, but once they leave the company, you don’t necessarily have a record of how it actually looked back then. Getting that historical data through robotics is great for moving forward,” Christopher says.