Robot farms are here. What can farmers expect?
The hills are alive with the sound of robots. Farmers could eventually start their day in front of a computer checking data streaming in from self-guided machines that have been planting or harvesting right through the night. It’s a huge leap, especially when you consider it wasn't until 1954 that the number of tractors on farms exceeded the number of horses and mules. The move to robotic farming is driven by a few factors: a labor shortage, the rapid evolution of high-tech innovation and by the need to meet intensifying production demands.
Class discussion: Would small farmers be able to afford the high-tech equipment? Will they be forced to sell out to large corporate farming operations? What could happen to food prices if there only were a few companies running all the farms? Could the using robots drastically increase farm production and lower food prices? While robots and computers may be able to cut labor costs, what other changes could affect farm production? How does agriculture affect climate change? Could changing what we eat make a difference to the climate?
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