Japan aims to make farming more profitable and appealing to young people with the help of smart farming.
Smart farming, or precision agriculture, using robotics and artificial intelligence (AI), should lead to an “agricultural resurgence” in Japan, reports The Japan News.
At the moment, Japan is faced with a nation of graying farmers, while at the same time not many young people are eager to become a farmer. The Japanse government, together with some major agricultural machinery makers, set out to change that.
Smart farming experiments at 50 Japanse farms
The answer, they believe, lies in smart farming. While Japanse machinery manufacturers are investing heavily in new equipment, such as autonomous vehicles, the government of Japan tries to stimulate smart farming with experiments to test self-driving tractors and other “smart” technologies at about 50 Japanse farms.
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A ‘swarm’ of Yanmar tractors working as an autonomous team at Hokkaido University, Japan. The government of Japan tries to stimulate smart farming with experiments to test self-driving tractors and other "smart" technologies at about 50 Japanse farms.
“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,” Yuji Tomiyama, a Kubota managing executive officer, told The Japan News.
Farming more profitable
The Japanese government aims to make farming more appealing and more profitable, such as by aiming to increase the value of produce by at least 10 percent. At the same time, production costs should be reduced by at least 20 percent.
“Smart technology has the potential to dramatically change farming,” Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Takamori Yoshikawa told The Japan News.
However, according to the article, farmers feel a mix of both hope and anxiety. “Farm work gets harder every year and automation could probably relieve a lot of that burden,” said a 68-year-old farmer who grows mainly rice on about 4 hectares in Daisen, Akita Prefecture. “But things like self-driving tractors are too expensive. It doesn’t pay for small farmers to buy them.”