The Japanese Ministry of Agriculture has a six-year plan for a robotic "Dream Project": automated tractors and robot farmers will transform land ruined by the March 2011 tsunami into a futuristic super farm.
Six hundred acres of land have been set aside in Miyagi prefecture to create the robot farm, with Miyagi being one of the three prefectures worst hit by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. The plan is to cultivate rice, soybeans, wheat, fruit and vegetables. Instead of utilizing chemical fertilizers, carbon dioxide emissions from machinery will be channeled back into crops to aid growth. Once harvested, they will be packed by robot farmers and distributed nationwide.
Among big companies that are expected to join the project are Fujitsu, Sharp, Hitachi, Yanmar, Ajinomoto and Ito-Yokado Co., while Panasonic and NEC have been invited to get involved.
The 2011 earthquake left a devastating impact, resulting in a tsunami as well as the Fukushima nuclear disaster – the world's worst since Chernobyl in 1986. Aside from more than 15,000 confirmed deaths, over 59,000 acres of farmland were damaged by the earthquake and resulting floods along with the fallout from reactor meltdowns at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant. As the Japanese agricultural industry struggles to recover, consumer confidence in local produce has been greatly diminished with a rise in imported fruits and vegetables.
According to a spokesperson, the Ministry of Agriculture hopes the "Dream Project" will change this by being able to "support farmers in the disaster-hit regions" and "revive the entire nation's agriculture."
Image by Ars Electronica on Flickr, courtesy of Creative Commons Licensing.