International Forum of
Agricultural Robotics

Speakers 2019 coming soon.

FIRA 2018 Speakers

Christiane LAMBERT


Christiane LAMBERT (France)


Christiane Lambert was born in 1961 in the French Cantal Department and grew up in a family of farmers. She decided early on to become a farmer herself and, after her degree in agricultural techniques, she established a dairy and pig farm at age 19. Christiane and her husband, Thierry, have three children and have set up a GAEC structure for jointly-run farms, with 106 ha of crops (corn, wheat, barley, triticale, peas and rapeseed) to feed their 230 sows and piglets with the help of 3 employees.

She became an administrator of French farmer union FNSEA in March and member of the Bureau in 2005. Christiane became the FNSEA’s First Vice-President in December 2010 and also acted as the Vice-President of the Environmental Commission, the President of the Food Chain Commission and as the Manager of the Sustainable Growth and Society Hub.

Christiane LAMBERT was the President of the FARRE Forum for Sustainable and Environment-friendly Agriculture from 1999 to 2005, presides over the VIVEA fund for continuous education and is also the Vice-President of the IFOCAP Training Institute for Agricultural Managers and of the AEI association for intensive ecological farming in Angers, France. She was elected the first female president of the FNSEA in April 2017.

Introducing FIRA 2018





Marc Vanacht is a Strategic Business Consultant based in St Louis, Missouri, USA. He works with  multinational corporations, government agencies, farmer organizations, universities… in the USA, the Americas, Western Europe, East Asia, and occasionally South-East Asia and Africa.

His expertise: 

  • Advanced technologies in agriculture,
  • Precision agriculture,
  • Technology exchange,
  • Bridge between markets and science, technology & engineering,
  • New product market identification, development and market launch,
  • Product life cycle management

From self-steering tractors towards autonomous field robots

Thomas ENGEL

Manager Technology Innovation Strategy

Thomas ENGEL (Germany)


Dr. Thomas Engel studied Agricultural Sciences at the Technical University München-Weihenstephan. After his graduation he researched the use of electronics and software in agriculture as Assistant Professor. He then introduced the first precision farming products in the German market as Product Manager Precision Farming for Claas.

In 2000, he joined John Deere, where he started as Engineering Manager for Agricultural Management Solutions. After that he led the Intelligent Solutions Group and did strongly grow the precision farming business in Europe. Since 2015 he is Manager Technology Innovation Strategy at the European Technology Innovation Center and is responsible to work with Universities and partner companies to develop new innovative solutions and services.

Overview of existing and future solutions in agricultural robotics


Professor of Robotics and Intelligent Systems, Program Lead HICRIS and Farm Automation

Salah SUKKARIEH (Australia)


Professor Salah Sukkarieh is an international expert in the research, development and marketing of robotic systems for field applications. He has managed a range of R&D projects in robotics and intelligent systems for logistics, commercial aviation, aerospace, education, environmental monitoring, agriculture and mining. He’s also a consultant to the industry and has worked for companies such as Rio Tinto, BHP, Patrick Stevedores, Qantas, QLD Biosecurity, Meat and Livestock Australia, and the NSW DPI. He was awarded the NSW Science and Engineering Award for Excellence in Engineering and Information and Communications Technologies in 2014, and the 2017 CSIRO Eureka Prize for Leadership in Innovation and Science.

Feedback: 15 years of agricultural robotics


Vice President Market Development Cluster Americas



Thierry is passionate about everything robotic and how technology can positively improve people’s lives and productivity. Thierry moved from Stockholm to Chicago in 2016 to take the role of Vice President Market Development Cluster Americas for DeLaval. Since joining DeLaval in 1995, Thierry has had many leading roles supporting the growth of robotic milking around the world. From New Zealand to Japan, China, Argentina, France, Germany, the Nordics, Canada, the USA and many more countries where robotic milking is now established, Thierry is grateful to have had the opportunity to learn from so many dairy farmers, dealers and industry representatives. This has given him an incredibly wide and complete perspective on the business of robotic milking since its early days until now.

Existing farm robots & applications / How are Japanese farmers welcoming robots to their fields?

Prof. Noboru NOGUCHI

Professor and Director Vehicle Robotics Laboratory

Prof. Noboru NOGUCHI (Japan)


Dr. Noguchi is a professor and the director of the Vehicle Robotics Laboratory at the Hokkaido University in Japan. His laboratory has developed more than 15 agricultural field robots since 1990. The current fleet consists of 10 robot tractors, a robot combine harvester, an automatic rice transplanter, 4 UAV’s and a boat.

Prof. Noguchi also works for the Cabinet Office of the Government of Japan as the Program Director of the Cross-ministerial Strategic Innovation Promotion Program (SIP) to develop “Technologies for Next-Generation Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries”. Prof. Noguchi is well-known for his many contributions to both industries and universities on how advanced technologies can be applied to agricultural systems.

He is highly recognized internationally for his contributions in robotic applications on off-road equipment. Due to his outstanding achievements in automation and sensor technology for agricultural production, he has received more than 20 academic awards from major domestic and international academic societies. Lately, he has been developing a multi robot system and is also working on intelligent machine vision for an agricultural mobile robot.

Naïo Technologies : robots at the service of farmers

Aymeric BARTES and Gaëtan SEVERAC

President and Managing Director

Aymeric BARTHES and Gaëtan SEVERAC (France)


Naïo Technologies develops and markets farming and vineyard robots as well as electrical tools to help farmers weed, hoe and harvest the fruits of their labour in all comfort.

Our robots are designed to assist farmers in their daily tasks in order to alleviate their workload and optimise profitability while limiting impact on the environment.

Agro-bot and drone applications for agriculture in developing countries


Agricultural Engineer

Santiago SANTOS VALLE (Italy)


Santiago Santos Valle is an Agricultural Engineer with years of experience in the promotion of sustainable agricultural mechanization in developing countries. He’s currently working in the Plant Production and Protection Division of the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization. He takes care of technical support during FAO interventions with agricultural equipment in the field and is involved in the promotion of Mechanization for Sustainable Agriculture.

Santiago has also initiated research and established a survey of agro-bot and drone solutions for agricultural applications in developing countries.

The challenges of AI and data in agricultural robotics


Worldwide Industry Solutions Director for Agriculture



Claudia Roessler is the Worldwide Industry Solutions Director for Agriculture. She is accountable for defining and executing Microsoft’s growth strategy in the industry, the unique industry value proposition and partner solutions.  She centers the strategy around customer’s business processes and acts as the industry solution champion within Microsoft, representing the voice of the customer and being an advocate. She sees the opportunity in increasing Agriculture productivity and an environmentally conscious use of world’s natural resources by leveraging technology and analytics. She believes that the Agriculture ecosystem needs to come together to gather data, benchmark results and benefit from the collective insight.

On the road to agricultural robotics

Maurice GOHLKE

Robotics Engineer

Maurice GOHLKE (Germany)


Maurice Gohlke is a robotics engineer at Deepfield Robotics. He focusses on robotics software and machine learning for plant classification. After graduating from INSA Lyon and Georgia Tech, Maurice has joined the Bosch Deepfield Robotics start-up and worked on box tree recognition for the Bonirob robot platform and on automated field trials with the 4D-Scan phenotyping robot.

The team is now developing autonomous machines to improve conventional and organic weed management. The first solutions will be provided to organic sugar beet farmers.



Vincent TARDIEU (France)

Vincent Tardieu is a journalist and communicaton expert who has specialized in agriculture, environment and life sciences since 1983. He started his career working for the French Libération and Le Monde newspapers for twenty years, before moving on to magazines, radio and television. He has also coordinated a postgraduate degree in scientific journalism at the faculty of Montpellier for five years. For the past ten years, he has written surveys for the general public in his field of expertise. The last is “connected agriculture, scam or cure? »Published by Belin (February 2017, 444 pages).


Seed Producer

Leo STEENPOORTE (The Netherlands)


Leo Steenpoorte is a seed producer from Oosterland in The Netherlands. He uses his two hectares of greenhouses to produce seeds for his various customers. He has been practicing for 29 years after graduating in agronomy. He is also a member of the Zeeland Farmers’ Federation, which counts 300 members.


University Professor - Agricultural Sociology

François PURSEIGLE (France)

INP / ENSAT Toulouse

Dr. Purseigle’s current research focusses on organizational innovation and work transformation at a time when farms increasingly leave the traditional family model behind. This leads to the worldwide emergence of new agricultural organizations and enterprises, which can be qualified as “firms”.

He is particularly interested in the operation of very large agricultural enterprises and the entrepreneurial behavior of their leaders.

Philippe POTIER

Manager Competitive Cluster for Soil Work and Seeding Machines

Philippe POTIER (France)

KUHN Saverne

Philippe Potier has an agricultural background and a university degree in mechanics. After a series of professional experiences, he naturally turned to a company in the agricultural sector.

Since 2000, he has been working for the KUHN group on R&D projects before he became the manager of the development section for soil work and seed machines at the French Saverne site in 2007.

He simultaneaously collaborated with the AGREENCULTURE company to create a complete itinerary for maize crops on a 50 Ha plot, that goes by the name of Challenge Centéol 2018. The project aims to highlight the technical, agronomic and financial benefits of using robots in the field, as well as the constraints.

Philippe is particularly interested in the operational side of large-scale agricultural companies and in their managers’ entrepreneurial behavior.

CENTEOL Challenge 2018

Christophe AUBE


Christophe AUBE (France)


Christophe Aubé founded Agreenculture in 2016, in collaboration with 2 other aeronautical engineers. Their goal was to create a low-cost GPS guidance system for farmers that offered high-level integrity in order to allow farmers to use the system on autonomous robots.

Today, AgreenCulture designs and uses solitary or combined robots for Smart Farming purposes. To accomplish this feat, AgreenCulture uses both precision agriculture tools as well as artificial intelligence to classify vegetation.

Together with internationally renowned farm equipment manufacturer Kuhn,  AgreenCulture has created the ‘Centéol Challenge 2018’ which consists in cultivating some 50ha of corn in a nearly totally autonomous way.


Managing Partner



Alain Pincot was born in the French Nièvre department. At a very young age, he started to develop a passion for agriculture and its machinery at his family’s multicrop cattle farm.

After his degree in Plant Production, he studied Agricultural Engineering in Beauvais and started to work as an agricultural journalist for French farmers’ magazine “La France Agricole”. He then decided to pursue his studies in the United States, where he obtained an Agribusiness MBA.

He administrated banana plantations in Central America and Martinique before he moved on to open field vegetable farming in California, where he’s worked for the last 20 years. Today, he’s a partner in the Bonipak company.

Bonipak is a family business with a vertical approach to vegetable farming. They take care of every step: from fields to cooling and selling. Throughout the year, the company produces some 22 million packages of vegetables, which are harvested on about 3, 500 hectares of fields spread over two states: California and Arizona.

Edouard LHOTTE

Associate manager

Edouard LHOTTE (France)


Edouard Lhotte is 29 and a father of two.

He grew up in the French Picardy region as a farmer’s son. After his farming degree and several professional experiences in the sector, Edouard took over the family farm in 2016. The farm grows 200 ha of cereal and red beet vegetable crops. That same year, he also starts to grow strawberries and asparagus on the farm… which explains his interest in weeding robots.


Managing wine grower

Flavien NICOLAS (France)


Flavien Nicolas is a wine grower and manages the Les Avocats EARL in Cairanne in the French Vaucluse Department. His 45 Ha of vineyards mainly contain grapes for the CAIRANNE AOC, a Cotes-du-Rhône wine.

During his Agricultural Machinery studies, he collaborated with a range of equipment manufacturers and the link between technology and agronomics remains a subject of particular interest to him.

Robotisation will be the next (r)evolution on my farm but I haven’t started yet”.

Hands Free Hectare project

Dr Richard GREEN

Head of Engineering Research

Dr Richard GREEN (UK)


Dr Richard Green (RG) (MIAgrE, AMIMechE) is the Head of Engineering Research at the National Centre for Precision Farming, the multidisciplinary group within Harper Adams University responsible for commercial research and development work in precision farming, agricultural robotics, mechatronics, data analytics, and other industrial projects. It has a dedicated team of scientists, engineers, data analysts and programmers working on a range of commercial R&D projects for a number of customers. The Centre is based in the new Agricultural Engineering Innovation Centre that is equipped with a manufacturing workshop, electronics lab and the latest computer design facilities. Recent development work includes robotic fruit harvesting, autonomous agricultural logistics, laser weeding, non-disruptive root crop measurement, sprayer drones, Ag 4.0 data analytics and robot scouting. He has worked on and supervised in excess of 100 industrial projects focusing primarily on the development and refinement of technology and systems for commercial agricultural and off road applications. During his career he has been involved in projects with almost all of the major agricultural and off-highway machinery manufacturers, including: John Deere, Claas, New Holland, Case, AGCO, JCB, Caterpillar, McConnel, Lely, Kuhn, Kverneland, and many others.

Moderator Part 1: ``Soil between my fingers``

Benoit EGON

Journalist, Editor-In-Chief of Agricultural Machinery Section

Benoit EGON (France)


Benoît Egon is a journalist and the editor-in-chief of the section of Agricultural Machinery at Terre-net Média. He has been working the agricultural machinery sector for nearly 20 years. After having obtained an engineering degree in Agricultural Techniques and a European master’s degree in Marketing, he worked for a range of manufacturers such as  Fendt, Massey Ferguson, Same, Deutz-Fahr. He joined the Terre-net Media team in 2010. Benoit is an electronics, computer and artificial intelligence enthusiast and takes a close interest in agricultural robotics.

Moderator Part 2: The Robotic Revolution


Chief Content Officer and Head of Global Precision Initiative

James SULECKI (Etats-Unis)


Jim Sulecki leads all content for Meister Media Worldwide, a U.S.-based business media company focused exclusively on agricultural and horticultural markets, with 12 major brands across print, digital, and event platforms. He also heads the company’s cross-market strategic initiative in the rapidly growing area of precision agriculture, which includes the website and the annual PrecisionAg Vision Conference (

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