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January 05, 2012

Japan plans robotic farms for tsunami damaged land

Taipei Times/AFP - Japan is planning a futuristic farm where robots do the lifting in an experimental project on land swamped by the March tsunami, the government said yesterday.

This report also shows that Japan is working to remediate land by removing more widespread salt from soil. There is also new technology for removing radioactive material from a smaller area of land.

Under an agriculture ministry plan, unmanned tractors would work fields where pesticides would have been replaced by LEDs keeping rice, wheat, soybeans, fruit and vegetables safe until robots can put them in boxes.

Carbon dioxide produced by machinery working on the up to 250 hectare site would be channeled back to crops to boost their growth and reduce reliance on chemical fertilizers, the Nikkei newspaper said.

The agricultural ministry will begin on-site research later this year with a plan to spend around ¥4 billion (US$52 million) over the next six years, a ministry official said.

Land in Miyagi Prefecture, about 300km north of Tokyo, which was flooded by seawater on March 11, has been earmarked for the so-called “Dream Project.”

The tsunami, sparked by a magnitude 9 earthquake, inundated the country’s northeast, killing more than 19,000 people, according to the latest figures.

It also badly polluted the land, leaving it laden with salt and depositing oil on fields, with about 24,000 hectares of once-fertile farmland damaged by the tsunami, earthquake and fallout from the damaged Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant.



Management of the land during the six-year project is expected to be entrusted to local farming corporations and production will begin once salt has been removed from the soil, the Nikkei said.

Once the six-year lease period is finished, the government plans to urge local farmers to consolidate their farmland under the farming corporations
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