A. K. M. Abdullah Al-Amin is an Elizabeth Creak Fellow and working as a PhD researcher at Harper Adams University, Newport, Shropshire, UK. Mr. Al-Amin also works for the Department of Agricultural Economics at Bangladesh Agricultural University, Mymensingh, Bangladesh as an Assistant Professor. Al-Amin’s research interests encompass the economics of agricultural technology, especially precision agriculture and autonomous crop robotics, climate change adaptation, environmental impact assessment, and ecosystem services conservation. For future correspondence, please reach at: firstname.lastname@example.org and/or email@example.com.
Research shows that smaller field size favours biodiversity and it is hypothesized that autonomous crop equipment would make it possible to farm small fields profitably. To test this hypothesis algorithms were developed for machine time over a range of field sizes. The Hands-Free Hectare (HFH) linear programming model was used to assess the economics of field sizes. The study considered rectangular fields in the West Midlands from 1 to 100 ha farmed with tractor sizes of 38 hp, 150 hp and 296 hp. Results showed that field times (hrs/ha) were longer for small fields with equipment of all sizes and types, but field size had the least impact for small equipment. The results showed that autonomous equipment reduces costs on farms with fields of all sizes. If temporary labour is available, conventional farms with small fields use the smaller equipment, but the extra hiring increases wheat production costs by £30-£40/ton over costs on farms with autonomous equipment. The larger 150 hp and 296 hp tractors were not profitable on the farms with small fields. The technical and economic feasibility of autonomous equipment irrespective of field sizes shows that it could promote Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELMS) in the United Kingdom and agri-environmental schemes (AES) in Europe and elsewhere.
A. K. M. Abdullah Al-AminAB*, James Lowenberg‑DeBoerA, Kit FranklinA, and Karl BehrendtA
AHarper Adams University, Shropshire, Newport, TF10 8NB, UK
BBangladesh Agricultural University, Mymensingh 2202, Bangladesh