Oz: pick-your-own in #AgriPositive mode
Antoine Hamant, a cereal grower and market gardener in the Marne region, purchased an Oz robot to weed his pick-your-own plots. As well as committing to a zero weed killer policy on the majority of his vegetables plots, he takes advantage of this to talk to his clients about agriculture. Many of them stop to watch this cute little robot working over the rows.
Optimum precision with Oz’s use of GPS
Oz has set up home with a market gardener in Saint-Etienne-Au-Temple, in the Marne region, who has been busy cultivating pick-your-own fruit and vegetables for more than 10 years. “I bought the version of Oz with a camera and lasers 3 years ago. Since last March, it has been fitted with GPS for greater precision. This has revolutionised the way it works: I’m very happy with it!”
Before Oz, he used a tractor with a hoe, but the farmer quickly realised its limitations. “It was difficult to get the rows clean, with the risk of doing a lot of damage to the crops. It couldn’t go over the salad crops at 20-leaf stage!”
Going over the crops on foot with a hoe was therefore necessary in order to keep the rows clean, but this is now unnecessary given the robot’s precision. “There’s a huge gain in time, as well as the rows being cleaner!”
Oz has adapted to the plots without any problem thanks to the initial structure of the picking area. “It needs space at the edges of the plots to do a 180° turn, but I didn’t need to create this. The robot uses the 6-metre wide paths, which are necessary so that customers can move around.”
Customer relations are in great shape
As well as cultivating 5.5 hectares of various fruit and vegetables on his land, he is now offering more than pick-your-own.
“Oz has become an attraction for some customers, who like to watch it working. Children often ask about how it works. Its presence makes it easier to enter into conversation with customers and to talk about our profession”.
The densification of Saint-Etienne-Au-Temple and the proximity of Châlons en Champagne has brought about the enclosing of some plots close to houses and estates which did not exist before. Positive communication on this theme is important, as it’s often a thorny subject.
“Sometimes I get Oz working several times in the same place and over the same land close to the sales point” the farmer jokes.
The assurance of high-quality after-sales service
“The daily use of the robot is facilitated by the teams’ great reactivity, even at the weekend.”
The presence of his brother and father, both mechanics, has also been beneficial for using the Oz robot and his relationship with Naïo Technologies. Linking his needs as a market gardener and the family’s ideas in terms of mechanics, the farmer feels that his opinion counts in the robot’s co-development in order to adapt it fully to the farm’s needs.
Tracing furrows for planting and also the development of seats on the robot for planting by hand are potential ideas which he would like to see developed on Oz. For this market gardener, “Oz could potentially do everything: work the land, mow the grass etc.”.
He is thinking about the possibility of planting other crops on his farm and using Oz for weeding. “I think it’s a technology of the future. It’s even more interesting because it allows you to forego chemical treatments and society is leaning towards this practice.”