Remember Iron Ox? I told you about it some time ago. It is the Californian startup that tries to fight water waste, greenhouse gas emissions and food waste by automating crops.
To do this, Iron Ox leverages two self-developed, AI-powered robots to perform most repetitive farming tasks and ensure resources are used efficiently. Two robots which are respectively the arm and the mind.
Grover, "The arm," can lift more than 450 kilos (1.000 lbs), and helps move plant "modules" (ie planters) across the greenhouse. Work in tandem with Phil, "The mind" to irrigate and harvest crops. To maximize yield and crop quality, Phil supplies water and nutrients, monitoring crop status and pH levels for each module, and ensuring resources are not wasted.
Indoor crops of the new millennium
Grover and Phil are designed to work in greenhouses, which implies that Iron ox must raze a facility before growing leafy vegetables, fruit and other produce in a given region. And that's what it's doing. After a first plant in the San Francisco Bay Area, the company has just completed construction of a 5000-square-meter (53.000-square-foot) greenhouse in Lockhart, Texas, where it will bring sustainable crops to the entire state.
"The Lockhart facility is a paradigm for bringing sustainable agriculture projects close to urban centers around the world," he says. Jen Capasso, Iron Ox Senior Communications Officer.
We want to make food a renewable resource for everyone. Any crop born in an Iron Ox facility will remain nearby, ensuring our surrounding communities have access to fresh produce grown recently, locally and sustainably.Jen Capasso
What about human work?
Robots are creating concerns about the relocation of labor in all fields now, but when it comes to agriculture they are particularly strong. For a long time traditional crops have given work, even if with low income and often exploiting (in some cases until death) seasonal or immigrants. Not ideal jobs, but there are those who live there.
On the subject, Iron Ox cuts short. He claims that theprecision farming be an opportunity to renew everything. The agricultural labor crisis arises from the fact that more and more people want to get away from a grueling and often harmful job for health and the environment: technology is a positive alternative, which frees up human resources to do healthier and more rewarding jobs.
“We have been waiting for a technological update for some time,” says Capasso. "By introducing technology to agriculture, we can not only increase efficiency, become more sustainable, but we can also equip workers with highly beneficial technological skills in a digital world." Will Iron Ox support this career “transition” with training programs? Let's wait and see.
Certainly the advent of harvesting robot and automated greenhouses will drastically reduce manpower: the direction is that of a world in which the concept of work human must be reinvented, possibly freed from unease, possibly freed from "duty".