Tuesday, July 9, 2013

No. 745: Strengthening the competitive edge of farmers (July 9, 2013)

Agricultural machinery makers are launching various products and services to help farmers strengthen their competitive edge in anticipation of increasing competition due to the liberalization of the farming market. 

Yanmar will launch a GPS-based service that allows farmers to confirm the operation of farm machinery and yields in alliance with Sorimachi, an accounting software developer. Yanmar tractors loaded with GPS automatically record their operations, and farmers input weather conditions and yields to Sorimachi’s software and send the data to Sorimachi’s database. The new service by Yanmar and Sorimachi allows farmers to know maintenance timing and get detailed information on yields by areas. Farmers get this service for free until March 2014. Yanmar plans to sell this service to 75,000 large-scale farmers, about 30% of all large-scale farmers in Japan.

 A Yanmar tractor in operation

Kubota developed a machine to produce unhusked rice for direct seeding. The new machine creates a metal film of less than 1.0 mm thick on seed rice using high-security iron powder Kubota developed for agriculture. Seed rice with a metal film on it is buried under the ground to prevent it from being devastated by birds. Farmers can produce enough amount of seed rice for direct seeding for a paddy field of about one hectare in 30 minutes. Direct seeding is not widespread in Japan, and this is one of the reasons for the high price of Japanese rice. The new machine will be put on the market for 630,000 yen. 

A Kubota tractor

Iseki will launch a rice planter capable of examining the nutrient distribution of a paddy field within the year. The rice planter measures the depth of land using ultrasound and knows the nutrition of the land using the sensor attached to its front wheels. Because it is possible to reduce the amount of fertilizer in the land with abundant nutrition, the rice planter can help reduce the total amount of fertilizer by 15%. 

Iseki tractors

Agricultural machinery makers are busily occupied with the development of new services and machines to increase productivity because Japanese agricultural production is on the decline after it peaked at 700 billion yen in 1986 largely because of aging of farmers.  

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