« Agriculture

Manual Labor--or Drones?

by David Kuharski

Living in cities surrounded by vast seas of corn, my family and I had a chance to enjoy Sweet Corn Festivals.  I can remember teaching my wife and kids how to spot a sweet corn field.  And every late summer when those festivals crop up around the Midwest, they're made possible by detasselers.  From talking with folks who lived in these farming communities, most of those people detasseling the corn are teens.  In fact, it seemed that detasseling was a rite of being a teenager of rural Iowa or Illinois. 

So that begs this question... With our technology, would it be cost-effective to use drones and robots to replace manual laborers? 

They're working on figuring out that question now in the world's 2nd largest exporter of wheat.  If this works, could we see robots programmed to detassel?  What ab