Farm machinery, mechanical devices, including tractors and implements, used in farming to save labour. Farm machines include a great variety of devices with a wide range of complexity: from simple hand-held implements used since prehistoric times to the complex harvesters of modern mechanized agriculture. 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.
Another interesting development pioneered in France is the robotic approach to harvesting tree fruit like apples and oranges where the mature fruit is selected by machine vision using light reflectance, picked mechanically by the robot and conveyed pneumatically (under vacuum) to a storage pallet. Whether these exciting but expensive technologies can be successfully commercialized remains to be seen. Gantry mechanization (including harvesting) of fruits and vegetables in greenhouses has also been investigated but cost remains a difficult factor to overcome. Unlike in cases 1 and 2, workers who lose their jobs will find only inferior alternatives, and some may remain unemployed; this redeployment of labor is not a productive benefit, but a loss. Nor is there any potential relief from drudgery for the redeployed workers, since their inferior work options may in fact entail more drudgery.