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The dehumanization of agriculture: New robotic farming devices eliminate need for human farmers

Tuesday, September 27, 2011 by: Jonathan Benson, staff writer
Tags: agriculture, robotics, health news

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(NaturalNews) Despite a renewed interest in small-scale, organic, and urban farms, most conventional crops continue to be cultivated on ever-expanding, mega-sized industrial farms composed of thousands of acres. And according to a recent report in The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), modern agriculture has become so dehumanized in the process that farming equipment companies are now developing automated drones to plant, fertilize, and even harvest crops without the need for an actual human being to be present.

Agriculture in most civilizations has traditionally been marked by a closely knit relationship between a farmer and his crops, between a culture and its unique food offerings -- but things have changed dramatically in modern times. What was once a life-giving and almost spiritual bond between communities and the land with which they grew their food has devolved into a soulless, land-raping system of factory-style crop production that is largely detached from the society that consumes it.

Globalization combined with ever-evolving government agriculture policies that favor factory farming have together helped create this dire and unsustainable system, which has left farmers with little choice other than to continually adopt whatever new methods and techniques come on the scene to quicken the growing process and boost yields, even if it means removing the human element almost completely.

Many farmers already use advanced global positioning system (GPS) technology to plant seeds and maintain crops. These same systems also tell farmers exactly when to plant and harvest crops, as well as when and in what quantities to apply water and fertilizer, which on the surface is beneficial. But the natural progression of this trend towards automation is also leading to the elimination of the actual farmers as well.

Tractors that know exactly where to plow and sow seed, as well as turn corners, for instance, are soon to hit the market. Pre-programmed carts that follow harvesting combines, and automatically steer themselves to waiting trucks when they get full, are also in the works. And the utilization of advanced new software, censors, and GPS technologies, is set to switch management of much of the rest of the food-growing process from humans to machines as well.

While to some this scenario may seem like a welcomed advancement that will help simplify farming, it really marks yet another step towards the complete dehumanization of agriculture. And in a dehumanized agricultural system, one glitch or error can debilitate the entire system, and potentially even a substantial portion of the food supply.

Sources for this story include:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB100014240531...

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