‘Digital agriculture has the power to be truly disruptive’: How AI and robotics are helping Japan overcome land challenges and dramatically increase farm yields

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Credit: JapanGov
Credit: JapanGov

Japan has one of the lowest food self-sufficiency rates out of all the major world economies. Caloric intake was 79% in 1960, but has fallen sharply, and currently stands at around 40%. The country’s goal is to reach 45% food self-sufficiency by 2030, but it faces many challenges. Two-thirds of the nation’s surfaces are mountainous, and the number of farmers in the country is shrinking, and increasing in age (67 years old on average).

Digital agriculture has the power to be truly disruptive. Farmers can use sensors, communication networks, unmanned aerial vehicles, AI, robotics, and other parts of the IoT for data analytics, management, processing, decision-making, and implementation. They can use their vast array of data points, thanks to weather satellites, radars, and also Earth observation and remote sensing systems, to monitor weather conditions, temperature, moisture, etc. Satellite imaging and GPS can also be used to monitor the application of fertilisers and water usage, or soil conditions in real time, and to forecast crop yields. 

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In Japan, digital agriculture is at the early stages, but recent initiatives suggest a promising future for a sustainable future.

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