While the sun is shining in fierce competition with the dandelions on a small field in the South Funen archipelago, microbrewer Bo Abelgren goes around and takes care of his young climbing plants, best known for their spicy effect on beer.
It's spring in Denmark, and it's time to get ready for this year's hop harvest.
"It is actually a rather time-consuming crop to deal with, so it could be a great help if the little cousin there (the drone, ed.) could help with hop production", said brewer Bo Abelgren from Svendborgsund Bryghus, when DR Weather visited his hop field.
Up and down ladders
Hops are grown on cords up to six meters in height. Today there is a lot of manual work involved.
The Danish Technological Institute (DTI) is therefore developing a drone that can automate the time-consuming, risky work, so that Bo Abelgren will be able to avoid climbing up and down ladders to dangerous heights numerous times.
"If I could get something relatively easy, like this, instead, it could be really exciting for micro-producers like us", Bo Abelgren emphasizes.
The hunt for the Danish taste for beer
In fact, hop fields in Denmark are rarities. They are simply not financially viable with Denmark's high wage level. For that reason, most "Danish" beers are brewed with German- or American- grown hops.
So the development of a hop drone will also create a breeding ground for a whole new type of terroir beer that tastes of the area it comes from.
"Danish hops for Danish beer makes good sense. Hopefully we can start producing terroir beer here at home, just as you have terroir wine", communications manager Louis Illum Honoré from the Brewery Association said to Zealand Media.
"Danish beer nay certainly taste of the good Danish earth, and therefore it would be great to produce Danish hops that take the taste of the Danish soil", he adds.
Great, foreign ambitions
The Danish Technological Institute has been working on drone development for hops production for about a year in collaboration with organisations such as Svendborgsund Bryghus, RoboCluster, the University of Southern Denmark, Lorenz Technology and Produktionsteknik ApS.
And the first signs are encouraging.
"In the medium term - maybe three to four years - we will have such a high level of automation on this that we can also sell this solution to the foreign places that produce a lot of hops", Program Manager Troels Vilms Pedersen from DTI said to DR Weather.
At the top of the article you can watch a video showing how the drone technology works.