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Posted Thu Dec 12 2013: from National Public Radio:
Robots Could Help Farmers Rein In Fertilizer Pollution
Lately, robots have been taking over all kinds of jobs that humans used to do on the farm -- from thinning lettuce to harvesting spinach. Three brothers in Minnesota are betting that robots could compete with machines on the farm, too: the huge, and often inefficient, fertilizer applicators made by John Deere and the like. The brothers' Rowbot, in comparison, is so small it can move between rows of crops and fertilize plants one at a time. "We joked about it being the Roomba of the cornfield," says one of the brothers, Kent Cavender-Bares, referring to the autonomous vacuum cleaner. The motivation for creating a fertilizer robot is simple: Many farmers overuse fertilizer, and that's costly and bad for the environment. But farmers don't have many tools to help them cut back.
[Read more stories about: corporate farming, contamination, fertilizer runoff, technical cleverness]
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