Alexander Langer (
Labor shortages and robotic automation in root crop farming


Alexander Langer is an Industrial Engineer by training and holds a degree from Cambridge University. After several years in the agricultural and food equipment industry, in 2017 he co-founded together with Christoph Grimme of Grimme Group. The goal of the newly established company is to create new business models and robotic solutions for heavy equipment industries such as construction and agriculture. Located in Düsseldorf, Germany, 20 members have created a wide range of software solutions and the robotic root crop harvester, which has been sold and rented to several farmers across Europe.

Presentation Abstract

Harvesting labor intensive root crops such as sweet potatoes or seed potatoes is becoming increasingly difficult in central Europe. Hourly field labor costs of 15€ and more become the standard while the UK lacks complete access to field labor. This results in overextended and environmentally unfriendly supply chains with significant transport- and storage related losses. We’re observing the trend that an increasing amount of small-scale farmers pursues their own route to market instead of producing for wholesalers or closing down their operations. Furthermore, the emergence of mixed- and intercropping cultivation has presented a unique opportunity to scale down harvesting equipment and relocate labor intensive farming practices back to central Europe through means of automation.