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Japan plans robot farm in disaster area

Jan. 6, 2012 at 6:55 PM   |   Comments

TOKYO, Jan. 6 (UPI) -- Japan says a futuristic robotic farm will be built on land swamped by the March 11 tsunami as part of an experimental government project.

The Ministry of Agriculture project will see unmanned tractors working the fields of the farm on a 600-acre site in the disaster zone, Britain's The Daily Telegraph reported Friday.

Robots will also box the produce grown on the farm, including rice, wheat, soybeans, fruit and vegetables.

The experimental farm will be located on a site in northeast Japan's Miyagi prefecture in northeast Japan that was flooded in last year's tsunami.

The project is expected to begin later this year with a predicted government investment of $51 million over the next six years, ministry officials said.

Farming land in Miyagi prefecture was hit hard by the disaster, with tsunami water leaving soil laden with salt and oil deposits, as well as radiation contamination as a result of the leaking Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

With more than 59,000 acres of once-fertile farmland damaged as a result of the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear fallout, Japan's agriculture industry is struggling to recover.

"We hope the project will help not only support farmers in the disaster-hit regions but also revive the entire nation's agriculture," a spokesman for the Agriculture Ministry said.

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