The quiet life of a farmer is under assault, and has been for quite some time. First, mega-farms drove the majority of family farms out of business. Next, the price-gouging, genetically-modified seed corporation Monsanto played out its costly, destructive drama on the national stage. Now a new threat is looming, one that might just put every last farm worker in the world out of a job: robots.
From crop dusting mini helicopters to berry-plucking rovers reminiscent of tiny tanks, these robo-workers are poised to take over almost every aspect of farm management. Pictured above is Wall-Ye, the tiny tank designed to trim grape vines and navigate vineyards. The time is fast approaching when there will be a robot for every job on the farm. While they go about their primary jobs, robots can also serve as data collectors, creating detailed reports on the health of every plant, how it's been trimmed, and when it was last harvested. Crop dusting drones can also keep an eye on livestock and even take part in herding.
In the UK, the powers that be have seen the writing on the wall. Rather than run from this robotic farming future, the British Parliament has established its very first "agri-tech" strategy. With a budget of $263 million, the commission will help to commercialize agriculture robots and to bring farmers up to speed. What might be bad news for farm hands, states the commission, could ultimately be good for individual farms hard-pressed to make a profit. Ideally, the implementation of robots would shift farm work from low-wage, back-breaking work to a more specialized, higher-wage career for those able to make the adjustment to the robot-driven farming of the future.
Via The Guardian