The WSJ published an interesting article on commercial farming advances in Japan. According to the article, “The aim is to bring the concepts of lean manufacturing and continual improvement, or kaizen, to farming.”
The farmers are employing sensors, analytics, real-time location information and cloud computing to optimize planting time, crop rotation, worker productivity and threat (infection) detection.
“…Now the head of a commercial farm in the southern Japanese prefecture of Miyazaki, Mr. Shinpuku is back manning a desk with his eyes glued to a Web browser tracking every movement of his workers who handle 60 different fruits and vegetables across its 100 hectares.
"I don’t want to do this. My eyes will get bad," said Mr. Shinpuku, the 58-year-old president of his commercial farm Shinpuku Seika, which is comprised of 300 different plots of land. "I put up with it, because the benefits are obvious. Without this computer, I can’t do my job."
Shinpuku Seika is among the first farms to implement a Web-based "cloud computing" service developed by Japanese technology firm Fujitsu Ltd. Cloud computing is a loosely defined business term in which companies rent computing power from remote data centers via the Internet instead of buying machines to run software in house.
Shinpuku Seika has placed sensors out in its fields to collect readings on temperature, soil and moisture levels. Fujitsu’s computers then crunch the data and recommend when to start planting or what crops may be well-suited to a specific field.
In the past, farmers would make those decisions based on experience, but Mr. Shinpuku says a data-driven approach prevents younger, less experienced staff from making mistakes that could cost the bottom line.”
The pay-off? Measured in cabbage of course:
“The system is already paying off for Shinpuku Seika, which generates about 1.5 billion yen ($18 million) in annual revenue. Last year, it doubled the size of its carrot harvest and raised its cabbage output by 12%.”
Read the full article.