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Smart Agriculture

Efforts to Realize “Smart Agriculture”

There are many procedures that are dependent on manpower, particularly that of skilled persons, in Japanese agriculture, forestry and fisheries, and food industries. Labor reduction, ensuring manpower, and burden reduction have become important issues.

Therefore, MAFF is undertaking various efforts with private companies, universities, research institutes, and other organizations to realize “Smart Agriculture ” that uses robot technology and ICT to achieve ultra-labor-saving and high-quality production.

  • Introduction of Smart Agriculture

  Promotion of Smart Agriculture(PDF : 1,450KB)

    Examples of the latest agricultural robots

    The following are robot technologies that were exhibited at the International Robot Exhibition 2019.


      Cabbage harvesting robot (Ritsumeikan University惻Osada Farm Machinery Co.,Ltd.)

      Ultra-labor saving without the need for drivers or workers

      • This robot automatically harvests cabbage and features a system equipped with AI and automatic container transportation.
      • We are developing automatic container storage and are aiming for fully automatic operation.

      1_Cabbage harvesting robot

      Tomato harvesting robot (Panasonic Corporation)

      Harvesting at any time of day or night

      • This is an automatic tomato harvesting robot. It picks and harvests mini tomatoes.
      • We are undertaking development for commercialization and are considering expanding this robot to be used with other crops in the future.

      2_Tomato harvesting robot

      Autopilot rice transplanter (Institute of Agricultural Machinery, NARO)

      Realizing speedy and accurate rice transplanting

      • This agricultural robot can transplant rice seedlings without the need for drivers. With this robot, anyone can do the same work as a skilled farmer.
      • This robot was developed by the Cabinet Office’s SIP. We currently in discussion with manufacturers for practical use.

      3_Autopilot rice transplanter

      Remote-controlled bund mower (Institute of Agricultural Machinery, NARO)

      A two-way player used for paddy field bunds and slopes

      • This remote-controlled mower reduces the labor required for mowing paddy field bunds. This mower can also be used for slopes (up to 35 degrees).
      • We conduct field demonstrations and are currently in discussions with manufactures for practical use.

      4_Remote-controlled bund mower

      Tomato fruits monitoring robot (Institute of Agricultural Machinery, NARO)

      High-precision harvest prediction

      • This agricultural robot uses AI to count harvestable fruits number and estimate total harvest labor time required. This information will be used to allocate labor resources optimally in a greenhouse.
      • We are undertaking intense research for practical use.

      5_Tomato fruits monitoring robot

      Remote-controlled water management system (Institute for Rural Engineering, NARO)

      Water management with smartphones, 80% reduction in work time

      • This robot remotely and automatically manages paddy field water levels.
      • In tests, it is expected that the time required for water management will be reduced by about 80%, and that the burden on farm households can be greatly reduced.

       6_Remote-controlled water management system

      OPTiM X (OPTiM)

      Reduces the amount of pesticides used by up to 100%*

      • This is a drone for spraying pesticides.
      • Based on the diagnosis results of AI, it is possible to pinpoint pesticide spraying to the necessary places in a fully automatic manner. / *Excerpt from OPTiM Press Release

       7_OPTiM X

      Semi-self-propelled grass mower (Ueyama shuraku agricultural consortium)

      Lowered costs and 50% reduction in work time

      • We are developing a weed control robot that will cost 500,000 yen or less at the time of introduction.
      • The goal is to reduce the working hours of mowing by 50% or more.

       8_Semi-self-propelled grass mower

      Small engine mowing robot with self-propelling for rice paddy field ridges (The University of Tokyo/SANYO KIKI CO., LTD.)

      Long drive time and powerful mowing

      • This robot automatically runs along paddy field ridges and mows the grass.
      • It is equipped with a small engine and is capable of powerful mowing.

       9_Small engine mowing robot with self-propelling for rice paddy field ridges

      Agricultural drone “Nile-T19” (Nileworks Inc.)

      “Precision Agriculture from the Air” by a automatic flying drone

      • This drone automatically sprays pesticides and diagnoses growth just by automatically flying at 30-50 cm above the field.
      • We individually diagnose the growth of the fields with data collected by the agricultural drone, and propose the precise application of fertilizer, weeding, and pest control according to the diagnosis result (under development).

       10_Agricultural drone “Nile-T19”

      Strawberry harvesting robot / General-purpose transport robot (Utsunomiya University/i-eat Co., Ltd.)

      Automatic harvesting without damaging soft fruits/ Transport robots that carry heavy objects and are easy to use

      • This strawberry harvesting robot can automatically harvest ripe strawberries by using image recognition.
      • This transport robot can support the transportation of heavy vegetables by follow-up running with use of a sensor.

       11_Strawberry harvesting robot / General-purpose transport robot

      Autonomous multifunctional agricultural robot “MY DONKEY®” (The Japan Research Institute, Limited)

      Multiple usages, such as transportation and spraying pesticides

      • “MYDONKEY®” is an agricultural robot that is able to follow farmers and run autonomously.
      • Attachments can be swapped to make it suitable for multiple usages, such as transporting harvested products, spraying pesticides and fertilizers, initial weeding, patrolling fields, and more.

      12_Autonomous multifunctional agricultural robot “MY DONKEY®”

      Power assist suit (A venture company Power Assist International Corporation of Wakayama University)

      Suit supporting not only the waist, but walking as well

      • This powered exoskeleton will reduce the burden on the waist in daily life in the future, such as in agriculture, logistics, architecture, and nursing care.
      • This powered exoskeleton makes it possible to lift heavy luggage, and assists with walking as well as crouching.

       13_Power assist suit

      RHI robot fruit sorting system (SHIBUYA SEIKI CO., LTD.)

      Automation for gentle box packing

      • This robot contributes to the sorting and selecting of fruits and vegetables, automating box packing work, and reducing labor.
      • The hand of this robot uses Real-Haptics technology to handle soft irregular fruits and vegetables “gently”, “smartly” and “flexibly”.

       14_RHI robot fruit sorting system

      On-farm demonstration trials of smart agriculture (Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries)

      Accelerating introduction on farms across the country

      • We introduce state-of-the-art smart agricultural technologies to agricultural sites and analyze the management effects.
      • Demonstrations have been conducted in 69 districts across Japan, from Hokkaido to Okinawa.

      15_On-farm demonstration trials of smart agriculture

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