A farm in the United Kingdom is the first in the world to successfully plant, tend and harvest a crop without a single person ever setting foot in the field, according to researchers and developers involved in the project.
From sowing the seeds to picking the grain, human workers were replaced with automated machines operated from a control room. The project, called Hands Free Hectare, was completed last month with a yield of 4 1/2 tons of barley, according to news releases.
The automated farm was a joint venture by Harper Adams University in Shropshire, England, and Precision Decisions, a farming specialist company in York.
"Previously, people have automated sections of agricultural systems, but funding and interest generally only goes towards one single area," said Kit Franklin, an agricultural engineer on the project.
Experts agree that automation technology has been available for some time now, but in recent years its implementation has been accelerated by decreasing costs and changing demographics in the workforce.