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LEDs to replace pesticides in a futuristic farm in Japan


Japan is planning a futuristic farm where robots do the lifting in an experimental project on land swamped by the March tsunami. Land in Miyagi Prefecture, some 300 kilometers north of Tokyo, which was flooded by seawater on March 11, has been earmarked for the so-called Dream Project. Under an agriculture ministry plan, unmanned tractors will work fields where pesticides will have been replaced by LEDs keeping rice, wheat, soybeans, fruit and vegetables safe until robots can put them in boxes.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 will be channeled back to crops to boost their growth and reduce reliance on chemical fertilizers.

The agricultural ministry will begin on-site research later this year with a plan to spend around 4 billion yen ($51.93 million) over the next six years. High-tech companies such as Panasonic are to be invited to get involved in the project in a bid to give a much-needed boost to the beleaguered sector. Among other companies expected to join the project are Fujitsu, Hitachi, Sharp, NEC, Yanmar, Ajinomoto and Ito-Yokado. The total investment, including funds from the private sector, would be around 10 billion yen ($129.84 million). 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.

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