Japan plans futuristic farm with robot workers in disaster zone

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  • -1

    7solace9

    This is great. Could mean more veggies for Japan and better workforce optimization.

  • 7

    gaijinTechie

    I'm all for the tech developmenf, but that is not going to restore confidence to farmers who insist on farming on contaminated land. That is a problem of ethics, not technical nor PR.

  • -3

    LH10

    whaa?!!! sweet! let the robots do the work and you get to chill out ^^

  • 4

    Utrack

    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.

    WAIT, if the land is polluted would not the produce grown on the land be polluted as well. So what is the point of farming on polluted land.

  • 11

    KnowBetter

    Great, so the farmers get to avoid all the polluted soil and radiation (that is good, no sarcasm there) and we get to eat the contaminated products grown on that contaminated land and harvested by the new technology. Sounds like a great plan IF YOU'RE INSANE!!!

  • 3

    jforce

    Not sure they're doing this in the right spot. The contaminated farmland, water-table, and not to mention animals still need to be dealt with. Again, this is a tactic to make it seem like everything is A-ok in an area that needs to be sealed off. Don't believe the hype. Buy your food from anywhere but NE Japan.

  • 4

    zichi

    According to the Science Ministry, 8% or 30,000 sq kms of land is contaminated by radiation.

  • -2

    Seirei Tobimatsu

    Bury all contamination in caecium & earthquake-proof concrete then build an intelligent city/condomium work-live complex there?

  • 3

    GW

    its sounds to me more like a NIGHTMARE PROJECT than dream project. Sounds like it will fantastic for big companies & the little guys............. ah who gives a damn

  • 2

    Newsman

    I have the feeling this plan will go the same way as the plan to give away 10,000 air tickets to foreigners. Odds are the ministry floated this plan into the media just to make it look like they're doing something.

  • -7

    j4p4nFTW

    This is a good idea to get the equipment developed for the project so that it can be used in other areas once it's ready. However, given the cost of the equipment and development, I think it could be more cost effective to bring in immigrant workers to farm in these areas.

  • 1

    Laguna

    Hydroponics, man. Then you don't NEED soil.

  • 4

    tigerguy

    Funny with all the high tech stuff, they still cannot resolve the Fukushima meltdowns. Focus on the source of the problem first.

  • 1

    Nessie

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

    How is this different from current methods? The plants take up some of the carbon emissions in any type of farming that relies on fossil fuel combustion.

  • 3

    smithinjapan

    How is sending in robots to do the farming mean the crops won't be full of radiation and/or pollutants? I like the idea of robots farming in unused areas, and LOVE the idea of LEDs replacing pesticides (THAT would be amazing!), but if they're doing it in heavily polluted areas, what's the difference in terms of product? Less danger to the farmers (less work and money, too), but same danger for the consumers.

    How about a 'dream project' where robots clean up the radioactive debris?

  • 2

    gaijinfo

    Wow, government is going to spend 4 billion yen on a 250 hectare site. I guess the j-gov has got money to spare.

  • 0

    horrified

    Robots? No surprise there. We can see the preparations for robot takeovers in all areas of society here. Just go to any Aeon supermarket checkout. Every single one of those checkout clerks are going to be replaced by automated checkouts in the next 5 years. That means less jobs on the horizon.

  • 1

    TinMadDog

    Even if the robots are going to eat the contaminated food they produce, I STILL don't see the point.

  • -3

    j4p4nFTW

    @horrified,

    . Every single one of those checkout clerks are going to be replaced by automated checkouts in the next 5 years. That means less jobs on the horizon.

    Well, yes...that's a good thing! Japan has a declining population and we need to move the current workforce into more value added service industry jobs. The low paying unskilled jobs can be replaced with robots, since immigration is not a valid option for Japan.

  • 0

    Cletus

    j4p4nFTW

    Well, yes...that's a good thing! Japan has a declining population and we need to move the current workforce into more value added service industry jobs.

    Like it is that easy!

    The low paying unskilled jobs can be replaced with robots,

    And what happens to the uneducated, unskilled workers that currently perform these duties. Its not like they can be retrained to do more technical jobs. Most people doing these jobs are doing them for a reason so by taking this work away from them you only increase unemployment and all the issues that go with it.

    since immigration is not a valid option for Japan.

    The only thing that makes immigration not a valid option for Japan is the attitude of Japanese people towards foreigners. At some point Japan will need to come out of its shell and allow and embrace other cultures or it will die a slow lingering death while the rest of the world moves on.

  • 3

    sillygirl

    i do not understand the purpose of this experiment. only the politicos should consume this food and if they are ok in 50 years i might consider it.

  • 3

    moomoochoo

    Spend that money on relocating people.

  • -4

    j4p4nFTW

    And what happens to the uneducated, unskilled workers that currently perform these duties. Its not like they can be retrained to do more technical jobs.

    yes, of course they can! I believe in people, I am an optimist for them.

    The only thing that makes immigration not a valid option for Japan is the attitude of Japanese people towards foreigners.

    Germany has admitted that the multicultural society was a failure. Immigration in the US has torn the country apart and become a political issue that cannot be resolved. Japan has watched the abject failure of immigration and multiculturalism across the developed world and now stands in a position of strength for not having made that deal with the devil. Japan humbly abstained from selfishly bringing in immigrant workers to perform unskilled labour. That humility is now giving Japan strength as the robot workforce is developed.

  • 1

    Darren Brannan

    We will see more and more of these kooky schemes with the megarich environment ministry throwing money everywhere but where it could help anyone other than shady contractors and suspect science.

  • 1

    Cletus

    j4p4nFTW

    "And what happens to the uneducated, unskilled workers that currently perform these duties. Its not like they can be retrained to do more technical jobs." yes, of course they can! I believe in people, I am an optimist for them.

    Sorry to rain on your utopian dream but some people cannot or will not fit into your grand visions. People who work in unskilled jobs do so for a reason they either cant or dont want to be educated for various reasons and therefore end up in what you call a non value adding job. For these people this is what they want to do or all they can do, and you believe by taking their jobs away and replacing with robots you can force these people to become skilled.... YEP!

    Germany has admitted that the multicultural society was a failure. Immigration in the US has torn the country apart and become a political issue that cannot be resolved. Japan has watched the abject failure of immigration and multiculturalism across the developed world and now stands in a position of strength for not having made that deal with the devil.

    I will admit that multiculturalism has failed to deliver in numerous respects. And can be considered a failure and cause of many social issues world wide. But the fact remains that it has also enable countries to grow and develop. You say because they avoided it Japan is in a position of strength, l disagree. Japan is an aging population, they are not the leaders in industry they used to be, in some respects they are downright backward. and they will only slide further into decay if they do not address the issues they face and one of these issues is increasing its labour force.

  • 5

    WilliB

    It sounds weird. Why do they want robots to produce food that we can´t eat anyway?

    The logical thing to me would be leave the area alone for along time, until chemical pollution and radioactivity has subsided naturally. In the meantime, it would be great nature habitat.

    I just don´t see the point of producing tainted food, with robots or without.

  • 4

    GW

    This BS is solely designed to steal our taxes, Japan inc & politicians making $$ & pocketing the bribes that go along with it, this sounds totaly daft!

  • 4

    zichi

    In the coming decades, the country will need many types of advanced robots for removing the melted nuclear fuel at Fukushima. Robots for production. Health care robots for looking after the very large population of retired and sick. Robots for farming and driving taxi's and other forms of public transport.

    By the year 2050, the country will need 30 million foreign workers or robots.

    With the current birth rate the Japanese nation will cease to exist by the end of the century. Could become a nation of robots unless the government goes the way of producing clones or government children. People donate their eggs and sperms and the children are taken care of by the government.

  • 0

    j4p4nFTW

    Cletus,

    Thanks for your comment. I just have a follow up question.

    in some respects they are downright backward.

    In which respects are you referring to? I'm not saying you're necessarily 100% wrong, but I think that sort of claim needs to be fleshed out with specific examples for it to stand on its own.

  • 1

    WilliB

    zichi:

    " By the year 2050, the country will need 30 million foreign workers or robots. "

    No. That is a simplistic extrapolation from current society. Societies are more adaptable than that. There is no reason Japan´s society can not deal with a different demographic tree. A higher retirement age combined with a more age-friendly infrastructure should go a long way.

    Repeating the disastrous European experiment with mass immigration from the 3rd world is not a solution, and a robot society is science fiction.

  • -2

    Cletus

    j4p4nFTW

    In which respects are you referring to? I'm not saying you're necessarily 100% wrong, but I think that sort of claim needs to be fleshed out with specific examples for it to stand on its own.

    I was referring to several aspects of Japanese business from recruiting, through management styles, labour relations, overtime, work ethic, labour allocations, l can site numerous examples where the Japanese have fallen behind foreign companies. Another factor is the Japanese refusal to adopt foreign work methods rather they cling onto their own methods that are clearly inferior purely because if it is Japanese it is right. This is the attitude that will doom Japan to failure.

  • 3

    zichi

    WilliB,

    I never mentioned the 3rd world? You say a robot society is science fiction but a 100 hundred years ago they say the same about man landing on the moon.

    We already have many working robots. Trains without drivers. Cars which drive themselves. Planes that fly without pilots. There's a long list..............

    Remember, fiction today reality tomorrow. %0 years ago who would have thought we would have the internet?

  • 0

    oberst

    The whole project does not make sense. Pure propaganda to appease the public, in short an attempt at pretending all is good. As many fellow readers already pointed out............ the crops produced are still going to be contaminated regardless of who or what harvested them.

  • 1

    KariHaruka

    Now agriculture isn't so mething I've spend a lot of time in however does it matter if the crops are harvested by people or robots. We the consumer would still be consuming the polluted food either way (If anyone wanted to to begin with that is) I just don't see the point in this scheme unless the robots can decontaminate the land.

  • 0

    KariHaruka

    something*

  • 4

    zichi

    When the robots become advanced enough and a world population of 10 to 15 billion, the men with power might decide there's no further need for the "working class" who would continue to be a huge drain on foodstuffs and resources, by releasing a deadly virus to wipe them out.

  • -2

    http://danieldiaztecles.blogspot.com/

    http://danieldiaztecles.blogspot.com/ The good thing about all this, is the desire that exists in Japan in providing solutions, solutions that will then experience for everyone. I appreciate all the positive efforts made by Japan and the solidarity between the different parts of the territory. Time will tell whether it is beneficial to farmers. Happy 2012.

  • 0

    Uwe Paschen

    The lack of farmer in Japan could be changed with immigrants. Many North European would be happy to immigrate to Japan if they could farm here and build communities as they do in North America, South America, Australia and North Africa. The Chinese would also come and farm here as they do in Africa and through out Asia by immigrating and buying farm land. Those type of farmers know the business and they do mean business as well. All the immigrant farmers from the Netherlands, Sweden, Germany or China that I have dealt with in North America, North Africa and East Africa knew their business and did rather well. Even providing jobs for the local population and bringing new ideas as well as new methods with them. There are also the Amish and the Mennonites that would love to be able to farm in Japan since land is becoming scares and they would pay well for the land as well. Robots are not the anther to every thing and most people still like to work them self. Further replacing pesticides is good, however, LED's do bring another problem with them, which is light and this light will disrupt the natural fauna and beneficial insects reproductive cycles. Finally no mater what one may think about robots versus immigration, or what the official government figures say about the contaminated sold with radiation, the consumer may not buy the products regardless who produces them or how those have been produced since they will come from an area that was affected by the nuclear accident and the label alone would put of many and this not only here in Japan. Of course we could always outlaw labeling and no longer allow providence or origin designations, which would really upset many producers and consumers around Japan.

  • 2

    Darren Brannan

    Here is my idea for the environment ministry. Grow hemp on the land. The hemp will draw the pollutants out of the soil. Turn the Hemp into massive ropes. Smelt the cars damaged in the tsunami into giant hooks and then attach them onto all Japan's disputed islands, with big hooks along the length. Robots, foreign workers and people in need of work can then pull the ropes in, bringing the islands back to Japan, catching a few whales along the way to prove my awesome science, and the seawater washes the Cesium out of the hemp. Ropes then burned as biomass fuels and everyone wins.Please don't nick my idea yet.

  • 0

    Utrack

    growing hemp maybe a good idea cause there is all kinds of contaminates in that soil aside from the radiation in certain parts. Since the sunflower experiment did not leech enough contaminates out.

  • 1

    kansaifun

    What?!?! Robots can do more than dance?!?! I have been led astray, ASIMOV!!!!!

  • 0

    CraigHicks

    "Once the six-year lease period is finished, the government plans to urge local farmers to consolidate their farmland under the farming corporations, the paper added." This last sentence needs a bit more explaining. Does that mean sell out to farming corporations and be replaced by robots?, (Or more likely cheaper foreign "trainee" farm workers.)

    It is not the case that small farmers cannot efficiently use robots. Small farmers already group together to buy machinery and share it. They can do the same with robots. They only advantage of corporations is reducing the farmers to low paid wage earners, or replacing them with cheaper foreign labor.

  • 0

    Arturo Hernandez

    If robots work and crop from contaminated soils, the product would be free of radiation just because was operated by Robots...nahhhh. What about all the farmers owners of these lands?
    While robots work in those fields, we want to bring Affected farmers to Mexico, to work on joint adventure with mexican Farmers and on Mexican soil, free of contamination, Japan is 500,000 sq. Kilometers area, Mexico is 2,000,000 sq. Kilometers area. We can share fields they can share "know how" they both share profit.!

  • 0

    oberst

    Aruro, great idea except the japanese are notoriously poor in foreign language skill. On the other hand, a soil exchange with Mexico may work ( 500,000 vs 2,000,000 dilution ratio )

  • 0

    rizaric

    What I gathered from the article is that, the aim of the project is not the produce.... it is the development of the system, implemented on a significantly large scale which can be then used or reproduced elsewhere. Nowhere does it say that the produce will be eaten, and I really hope that it doesn't make itself onto the market.

  • -2

    wontond

    Now this is the Japan I've been waiting for, experimental and cutting edge. Best of luck to them. This could change the world.

  • 2

    Utrack

    Of course the produce will be sold on the open market. How else are these companies supposed to recoup the Yen that they invest in this endeavour.

  • 1

    sf2k

    This is insane, who will eat the contaminated foods? Also most countries invite people into the country to take up tasks that are in short supply. It's called immigration. Japan will cease to exist as both positions taken by the government are untenable. China will move in. It just has to wait.

  • 1

    sf2k

    on a larger scale it just means that Japan would rather have robots than immigrants.

  • 2

    zichi

    The plan is clearly to develop robots and not to sell contaminated foods.

  • 1

    Utrack

    “We hope the project will help not only support farmers in the disaster-hit regions but also revive the entire nation’s agriculture,” he said.

    Then how else are they supposed to support the farmers in the disaster hit areas if not by selling the produce.

  • 0

    7solace9

    I still like the idea and will be interested to see whether a proof of concept can be produced for a system that is more efficient and productive while still being reasonably cost-effective. The probability that land decontamination and food testing would be forgotten, especially when developing a high tech farm, is kind of low. And, if nothing else, it gets people's minds off the 3/11 losses and helps them direct their thinking creatively towards the near future. Plus Japan might get more robots.

  • 0

    delrennich

    But is it safe?!

  • -1

    MaboDofuIsSpicy

    Waste of money.

  • 0

    MaboDofuIsSpicy

    Are their any mechanized farms here in Japan like in America? Water and nutrient sensors etc? I totally doubt it with these tiny little farms.

  • 0

    codomo

    I like this plan of making robots work on the contaminated area. Maybe j-gov plans to improve their robot technologies for future to export that machines to other countries but I believe like this technologies will help our descendant if they would be faced the world that is polluted by demand of our generations. At least this approach is gonna be based on peace. I really hope it will be success.

  • 0

    Elvensilvan

    OK, so the government decides to develop working robots in a wasteland. While it's all good for me, how about the maintenance of these irradiated robots? Are they going to be disposable types, or repairable?

    These robots could be a good thing. Robots clearing off nuclear waste, bomb disposal jobs ... jobs that are just too dangerous for humans to engage in.

    For all the ones who say this is a bad thing: let's be realistic here. Like Fukushima's nuclear meltdown problem ... no one would go inside the reactors to retrieve and pack the melted nuclear fuel into a sealed container. But if there are robots who can do this for us, then decommissioning Fukushima nuclear plant may become shorter instead of the targetted 40 years.

    As zichi said, what we percieve as fiction today may just become reality after several years.

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