The Yomiuri ShimbunLeading agricultural machinery manufacturer Kubota Corp. plans to achieve the practical use of a labor-saving system in 2018 that taps into information technology, in an effort to strengthen the competitiveness of the agriculture sector and promote the entry of new businesses.
By combining drones and tractors with self-driving functions, the system is intended to help create an environment in which farmers can manage large fields more easily.
Growing conditions and other elements will be analyzed using aerial images taken by a drone. Based on the data, decisions will be made regarding fertilizer, such as the type, amount and the best place to spray it. Self-driving tractors will then carry out the spraying.
In the future, the company plans to add functions to manage farms and give self-driving tractors operating instructions by analyzing information such as the shape of the land and past harvests.
The number of farmers with annual sales of more than ¥500,000 was 1.2 million in 2017, down about 26 percent from 2010, according to the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry. Meanwhile, the size of cultivated land per farming household was 2.41 hectares, up about 23 percent.
The situation is thought to arise from farmers receiving land from other farmers who lack successors, as well as an increase in the number of farmers who expanded their land through business incorporation.
The government is also promoting a plan to establish agriculture as a profitable business by spreading “smart agriculture,” in which both farmland is expanded and efforts to save on labor are realized.
“We want to promote young generations’ entry into the agriculture sector by enabling even novices in the field to become highly proficient after training for a short period of time,” said Satoshi Iida, general manager of research and development headquarters at Kubota Corp.Speech