Jonathan Gill  -  How do we embrace Automation in Agriculture?'

Worshipful Company of Farmers
McDonald's Restaurants
Savills UK

I am a qualified robotic engineer with 12 years of experience specialising in mechatronic systems I started out working on oil rigs with a ROV team in the harsh offshore environment.

However I wanted to get more in to my rural roots by designing aerial drone systems, but not for TV Media work but to get drones to work in agriculture. This is where I started working for Harper Adams University research team. I found the right team of people to work with and developed the ‘Hands Free Hectare’ my most recent project and boldest attempted fusing automation, agronomy and agriculture together operating drones and drone technology to achieve a world’s first. I have been blown away with the interest across the world and am constantly inspired to keep working in agricultural automation.

During weekends I help run an award winning catering business 'Fodder in the Field' with my partner, inspiring families to enjoy the countryside and support local food producers.

I have a Classic and modern VW camper vans and love travelling to new places living the outdoors lifestyle while cooking on an open fire. 

I feel honoured to have the Worshipful Company of Farmers and Savills with McDonalds Restaurants sponsor me for my Nuffield Farming Scholarship.  

 

For the last five years I have worked at Harper Adams University where I have been surrounded by agriculture and its many disciplines. My working background and degree in robotics has led me to a niche in the engineering department where I work on numerous projects to automate agricultural machinery. My interest in robotics is an extension of my physical capabilities allowing me to achieve tasks faster, with a higher precision.

I am a qualified Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) pilot and frequently fly commercial drones. I use these skills and data collected out in the field to aid agronomic decisions. Through my varied working career I have found that many other industries have embraced mechatronic solutions, since working for the university I have recognised that aspects of agriculture are playing catch up. The ‘Hands Free Hectare’ is one of my continuing projects, it has allowed me to apply many aspects of my expertise from design through to harvest.  

I aim to use my Scholarship to identify new and innovative ways of automation within the sector. Answering questions such as: Can we solve the arable yield plateau and increase food production?