Country for PR: China
Contributor: PR Newswire Asia (China)
Monday, September 13 2021 - 11:00
XAG Brings in Self-driving Robot to Ease Burden of Japanese Fruit Farmers
ONO, Japan, Sept. 13, 2021 /PRNewswire-AsiaNet/ --

As Japanese farmers struggle to maintain high quality fruit production amid 
labour shortage, XAG autonomous farm robots are now pitching in to help manage 
the orchards with high precision. Since XAG unveiled its R150 unmanned ground 
vehicle into the Japanese market this June, this all-electric, nimble farm 
helper has been trialled for crop spraying across a variety of orchards such as 
apple, grape, watermelon, and citrus.

According to the Agricultural Export Expansion Strategy, the Japanese 
government has established the 2025 export target for 27 products, among which 
fresh fruits including citrus, strawberries, apple, peaches, and grapes are 
projected to have significant growth potential. As the strategy calls for 
modernising farm machinery to enhance production and productivity, robots are 
regarded as good prospect to help meet these targets. 

Shine Muscat grapes to embrace automation 

In Japan's Yamagata Prefecture, one of the four main production areas of the 
premium grape variety called Shine Muscat, farmers have tested the performance 
of XAG R150 farm robot on taking care of their vineyards. Traveling easily 
beneath the horizontally arranged grape vines, this highly agile and powerful 
autonomous robot can spray bottom-up for grape vines that climbed on overhead 

The large, seedless Japanese "Shine Muscat" grapes has gained momentum and 
widely exported to other Asian countries since 2007. While Japan devotes 1,200 
hectares to cultivate these green premium grapes, the growing shortage of 
labour in rural area present challenges to meet the export demand. 

With a few clicks on mobile app, XAG R150 as a hands-free machine can precisely 
spray on the crop and ward off pest insects or diseases. This can not only 
mitigate the impact of rural aging and decreased agricultural workforce, but 
also reduce adverse health impacts on farm workers who used to bend over with 
repetitive motions. "It's like a new type of cure to my back pain, I suppose," 
a vineyard farmer who watched the demo said.

Precision Spray on Sweet watermelon 

In Obanazawa, another city of Yamagata Prefecture, XAG R150 was also flexibly 
adapted to watermelon farm and used for watering the melon crops in a field 
demonstration. The burden of manual spraying and irrigation on slopes have 
urged Japanese farmers to seek a new approach.

With strong trafficability on tough terrain, the nimble R150 could readily 
drive between ridges of watermelon field. As this self-driving robot agilely 
moving forward, water was spread precisely through high-speed airflow from the 
embarked JetSprayer system, attached on every leaf surface that needs to be 
cared for.  

Japan has a mountainous topography with 60 percent of forest coverage. Because 
of the scarcity of arable farmland in Japan, the agricultural industry has 
shifted to a quality-based production strategy rather than a quantity-based 
model to grow better with less.

In Obanazawa, sophisticated care is taken from seeding, spraying, and 
fertilising to nurture a perfect fruit, making watermelon cultivation a 
labour-intensive operation with a dearth of intelligent technologies. Nowadays, 
it is getting harder to hire sufficient workers to manage the melon fields year 
by year, with labour shortage being a long-term trouble to Japanese farming. 

As an innovative alternative to manual labour, XAG R150 can follow the pre-set 
route on farm to help fruit growers effectively spray crops and water the 
field, which reduces the use of pesticides and save water. Watermelons need 
precision irrigation during their life cycle, and traditionally drip tapes are 
deployed in the field to secure water supply. However, most melon fields have 
bumpy terrains and long ridges, making it difficult and time-consuming for 
farmers to apply and retrieve those tapes regularly. 

Japan aims to raise agricultural exports to 2 trillion yen in 2025, followed by 
5 trillion yen in 2030. Since the Japanese government is actively supporting 
smart farming technologies through new laws and regulations, fruit growers in 
Japan can now expect a scale-up of lightweight farm robots to truly help them 
grow high-quality fruits with less input. 


Image Attachments Links:


   Caption: XAG R150 Unmanned Ground Vehicle working on Japan's watermelon farm