Robots in Agriculture: Good or Bad?

Applied Tech Review | Monday, April 19, 2021

Agriculture is now being automated, making farming more effective and enabling humans to devote their time to less laborious and debilitating activities.

FREMONT, CA : Agricultural robots are now performing tasks such as spraying, pruning, chopping, planting, and packaging in greenhouses and open fields (just to name a few). Standing in an open field, one could see a drone fly by, dropping biocontrol or beneficial insects precisely among the crops, or a self-driving tractor-looking robot extracting weeds from the soil. Agriculture is now being automated, making farming more effective and enabling humans to devote their time to less laborious and debilitating activities. Simultaneously, innovations have been critical in reducing famine over the course of human history by maximizing food production.

But Will Workers Be Out of a Job?

At the intersection of technology and human livelihood, the challenge of implementing new technologies exists. How does one ensure the lives and financial security of those who depend on farm work as a source of income? What happens to those who depend on their hands-on experience with agricultural crops?

Agricultural robotics and automation in agriculture can assist and operate alongside human labor, taking on monotonous tasks and releasing people from dangerous working conditions. One may argue that this would also reduce workers' wages, but why oppose systemic reform that would improve agricultural workers' working conditions (and thus their living conditions)? Why not hire robots to prevent people from breaking their backs when performing laborious and tedious tasks in agriculture, or to cover their skin in chemicals while they spray pesticides across the field, or to work with the sun beating down on their backs? Why should individuals do all of this, even if it is for the sake of earning money when there are tools that will make their work lives easier?

Robots and Humans Working Together

Although the sector is still a long way from fully autonomous robots, in the meantime, there are options where people can assist the robot or the robot assists people, with remote control as a further choice to aid robots running around in the greenhouse. Workers can direct the robot remotely in this way, allowing them to work comfortably away from the harsh agricultural conditions.

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