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Japan's 'Dream Project' will use robots to tend disaster-stricken farmland

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Japan is planning to build an experimental robot-run farm to help revitalize some of the land hit hardest by the March 11th earthquake and tsunami.

Flooded Fields in Miyagi Prefecture
Flooded Fields in Miyagi Prefecture

Japan's Ministry of Agriculture is planning an experimental farm to help revive some of the land devastated by the March 11th earthquake and tsunami — and it's going to use robots to do it. Approximately 618 acres in the Miyagi Prefecture have been set aside for the plan — dubbed the "Dream Project" — which will see unmanned tractors and robots tending, harvesting, and boxing rice, wheat, soybeans, and various fruits and vegetables. The project also aims to create a sort of self-sustaining ecosystem unto itself, with the carbon dioxide emissions from the robotic machinery being channeled back into the crops to promote growth in lieu of chemical fertilizers.

Northern Japan was hit hard by the disasters earlier this year, with farmland left flooded and contaminated by fallout from the Fukushima nuclear plant. The Ministry plans to spend around $51 million on the project, with additional funds from the private sector bringing the total investment to over $129 million. Panasonic, Hitachi, Fujitsu, and Sharp are among the companies that are reportedly expected to participate. Don't expect an immediate turnaround, however: on-the-ground research wil begin later this year, with the experiment expected to stretch over the next six years.

Image credit: John Mettraux (Flickr)