‘Smart Farming’ Plows Ahead in Japan

‘Smart Farming’ Plows Ahead in Japan

“Smart farming,” which utilizes cutting-edge robotics and artificial intelligence, could hold the key to an agricultural resurgence in a nation of graying farmers and a general population reluctant to toil in the soil, according to an article by The Japan News.

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Major agricultural machinery makers are already pouring resources into developing new equipment, and the Japanese government is planning experiments to test self-driving tractors and other technologies at about 50 model farms starting next fiscal year.

Building a Better Tractor

A new robotic tractor was unveiled Jan. 15 at a research firm run by the National Agriculture and Food Research Organization, a state research and development institute based in Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture. With no one in the driver’s seat, a worker standing off to the side used a tablet computer to make the tractor stop and go. When the tractor reached the edge of the field, it made a rapid U-turn. In no time at all the field was plowed.

The tractor’s motions can be monitored on a screen, which allowed the worker to operate two tractors simultaneously. Kubota Corp. has started test-marketing of a tractor that can plow both wet and dry fields. It uses satellite location data to move automatically at a high level of precision, with only a few centimeters of error.

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“In the future, we will achieve ‘unmanned farming,’ in which AI will comprehensively analyze satellite, meteorological and other data so robot farm machines can operate automatically,” said Yuji Tomiyama, a Kubota managing executive officer.Yanmar Co. and Iseki & Co. are already marketing self-driving tractors.Another area of progress is in the use of small drones.

Read more at TheDailyStar.net.

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