Japanese technologists have pioneered the state-of-the-art technology in mechanized transplanting, which hitherto had been (and still remains) a highly labor intensive operation. Exciting innovations have occurred in sowing including the use of air pressure in precision seeders (both positive and negative, e.g. vacuum seeders), monitoring of seed metering and sowing rates using sensors, and fluid drilling (a method of sowing pregerminated seed suspended in a pumpable gel).
Precision application of agrochemicals is an exciting and active area of research where pesticides and fertilizers are applied only where they are needed and at the appropriate concentration to elicit an optimum response. This approach requires accurate information on soil fertility and pest activity and an applicator that can automatically vary the application rate as desired.
At first glance, renewable fuels are attractive from an environmental and sustainability perspective and cogent arguments have been made that such considerations justify the generous tax remission protocols necessary to commercialize these products. For example, the use of renewable fuels in urban vehicles may be justified if the emissions are much cleaner than those from conventionally fuelled vehicles.Successful agricultural growth in various developed countries has therefore capitalized on abundant factors of production: land and mechanization in the United States; labor, land improvements, and biological technology in Japan. Continental Europe also emphasized biological technology before shifting the emphasis to mechanical technology.Tillage is the manipulation of the soil into a desired condition by mechanical means; tools are employed to achieve some desired effect (such as pulverization, cutting, or movement). Soil is tilled to change its structure, to kill weeds, and to manage crop residues.
Automation applications will be orientated towards and assist in the attainment of environmentally friendly and sustainable systems of agricultural and food production. However, the difficulties in matching environmental concerns and sustainability with an ever-increasing world population cannot be underestimated especially in the developing countries. Thus, there may be a tension between maximizing food production on the one hand and implementing sustainable development and environmental protection systems (e.g. erosion control) especially, in poorer regions, where the demand for increased food production follows logically from an increasing population.