Tag Archives: Agriculture

Obsolescence of Ideas | Martin S Pribble

Posted by on January 21, 2012 in Featured, Thoughts | 7 comments

Historically there are certain human inventions have helped catapult humanity forward at an unprecedented rate; from the invention of simple tools, to the advent of steam-power, the harnessing of electricity through the burning of coal, the printing press, and the information super-highway, to name a few examples. Also historically we see many of these ideas in their simplest or more advanced forms superseded by a newer technology or idea as innovation and social cooperation increases, or are left behind altogether as the climate of human activity shifts.

Tool-making has allowed us to create better and more precise tools, and all of these technologies have evolved from the common ancestor of a tool like the first stone hammer. But we see technologies and ideas, as they become more precise leaving behind old ways of doing things in favour of better and more efficient modes. For example, steam-power was ousted by the advent of the internal combustion engine, and that looks to be superseded by more efficient models of propulsion. Coal power, now considered to be dirty and dangerous, has been superseded by nuclear fission, and possibly soon again by nuclear fusion. The printing press, in it’s letterset format, has been ousted by offset printing, and now by digital printing, and even that looks to be superseded by digital devices such as the iPad or Kindle, and while there is a resurgence of “handmade” in the world of print, this is mostly from a sense of nostalgia; that kind of printing will never be seen in the mainstream again. That’s the thing about progress, it progresses.

Read the rest of the original here: martinspribble.com

On Land Destroyed by the Tsunami, Japan is Building a Futuristic Robot Farm

By Clay Dillow

Posted 01.06.2012 at 10:02 am

2 Comments

Devastation Wrought by the Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami

U.S. Navy via Wikimedia

You have to hand it to the Japanese; Last March’s Tohoku earthquake and associated tsunami wasn’t the first natural (or unnatural, for that matter) disaster to befall the island nation, but as just as before the country isn’t simply rebuilding. Instead, it’s rethinking and improving upon what was there before. The latest example: Japan’s agriculture ministry is building a fully robotic experimental farm on a swath of farmland inundated by the tsunami.

After salt is removed from the soil of the 600 acre plot, the agriculture ministry’s plan calls for unmanned tractors to work fields lit by LEDs that will keep insects at bay in lieu of pesticides. The robotic tractors will till, plant, and tend to rice, soybeans, wheat, and various fruits and vegetables that will then also be harvested by their robotic overseers.

The robo-farm, planned for a space in Miyagi prefecture roughly 200 miles north of Tokyo, is part of an effort to find smarter ways to reclaim Japan’s farmland–some 60,000 acres of which was fouled by the tsunami–and find more efficient ways to make use of the country’s limited agricultural space.

Getting more out of each square foot of agricultural real estate isn’t just a Japanese imperative, of course. As the global population increases, increasing the per-acre yield of agricultural space is becoming more and more crucial. Leave it to tech-savvy Japan to understand fundamentally that technology is the way forward in farming.

As such, the “Dream Project,” as the robo-farm initiative is known, will be built by partners like Panasonic, Hitachi, Fujitsu, NEC, and Sharp–technology companies most of us would probably wouldn’t associate with agriculture. But perhaps we should start thinking that way. The Japanese certainly are.

[AFP]