Agricultural automation: automated farming that uses robots and other high-tech devices. Also: agri-mation.
Harrell is one of a small band of researchers at a score of universities and companies around the world who are intent on putting robots down on the farm. Tireless and versatile, these mechanical migrants will do everything from harvesting artichokes to milking cows (page 67). The researchers have coined a new word for the move to automated farming: "agrimation." Agriculture is ripe for the cost savings robots could bring. While the direct-labor content of most mass-produced items has been pared to anywhere from 5% to 15% of the selling price, labor represents a much bigger slice of farm produce. Buy an apple in France to round off a lunch of bread, cheese, and wine, and 30% of what you pay stems just from the cost of picking the fruit.
Hugh Aldersey-Williams, "Robots head for the farm," Business Week, September 8, 1986
Automating agriculture presents a more complicated task than automating factories because of lack of uniformity of the products, but early efforts have provided enough success to encourage the engineers who tackle such problems.
The prospect of farm automation seems good enough for two engineering societies to stage Agri-Mation 1, the first conference ever on the subject, in Chicago recently.
—Jon Van, ""'Smart' machines to be the eyes and ears of the farmer," Chicago Tribune, April 21, 1985