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New BSI guidance on safe and secure use of crop robots in farming

A code of practice designed to help farmers operate more sustainably, address labour shortages and respond to global demand for more intensive crop management has been published by BSI.

Use of autonomous mobile machinery in agriculture and horticulture – Code of practice (BS 8646:2023) provides guidance around the safety and risk management processes that can be applied to farming operations, information on instructions and training for safe operation and maintenance of AMM and advice on farm planning, including hazard controls and emergency preparedness.

The report comes in the wake of a global drive towards uptake of autonomous mobile machinery (AMM) in agriculture and horticulture to support labour shortages and a need for more intensive crop management. Data analytics solutions, such as sensing the moisture level of soil, are increasing crop precision and accuracy, while robotics technology is already being used in tasks such as fruit picking.

Earlier this year, the UK Government pledged £168m to help encourage the development of new technology and innovative ways of farming. Though the benefits are huge, AMM carries risks and the new standard provides best practice guidance on their introduction and safer use, while encouraging wider adoption of AMM, particularly among smaller enterprises. 

“Using IT including robotics has the potential to accelerate progress towards a sustainable world while delivering higher, more profitable growth and improved food quality,” said Sebastiaan Van Dort, associate director, sustainability and energy at BSI, “This new code of practice can facilitate the development of the AMM manufacturing sector, helping to protect the future of farming and benefit us all.”

For more information, or to download the standard please visit BSI Knowledge.

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