Georgofili World

Newsletter of the Georgofili Academy

Slow food or techno food?

Subject to media attention, it is a few days ago came the news that Japan has implemented the construction of the first fully robotic farm. They called Spreed and produce lettuce, after sowing, only manual operation, will no longer see human intervention. In fact, all operations will be performed by robots which will take care of the entire production process until harvest. Stuff of this world? Science fiction? Maybe ... but industry experts are beginning to be aware that agriculture 2.0 is now a reality.

We were already accustomed to the mechanization in agriculture, but now, with the advent of robots, drones, app. and the infinite possibilities of the network we are experiencing a real revolution.

But why relying solely on a whole chip machine and circuits? The objective is to minimize human intervention in the field, obtaining the work with precision and high efficiency, reducing the possibility of contamination and increasing the standardization of products. All this, optimizing the use of pesticides and water.

The one on which they are able to work the Agbot is a field anything but restricted. Today a drone can live analyze possible water stress, the presence of disease or the degree of maturation of crops. And then again, there are robots that analyze, weigh and distribute hay depending on the individual needs of each animal. We think even the possibility of installing chips to cows, to monitor their state of health, the moment of birth etc ... all conveniently sent via smartphone app!

All this would be a great help for those who work in agriculture, because it is now clear the value of the constant monitoring and the great help that would provide the robotics in the handling of the heaviest tasks and burdensome, but the Italian agriculture is really ready to put their trust automation? Everyone is familiar with the work and passion that lies behind a bottle of good wine or a local product cost effort and sweat: a machine would be able to achieve the same result? But especially the Italian farmer is ready to support the high expenses needed to the acquisition of Agbot? Not to mention the perception that consumers can have a high-tech product. The answer is obvious: there is a manifest in Italy in rural backwardness and a kind of allergy to the use of basic technological resources such as email or have a decent internet site; the average small farmer of the province does not have a smartphone and hardly understands its potential, let alone whether it can be implemented so a marked step forward!

Our territory, now consists of few companies that would be able to absorb the costs of these technologies and are making that leap, generational and conceptual, that it can accept to breed or cultivate trusting blindly to the robots.

The technology is racing, many here are still walking: you just run and follow up or cling to the old ways?

Perhaps only time will give us an answer: slow - food or techno - food?

by Francesco Presti
29 february 2016, TEATRO NATURALE