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BBC: 未来所有的农活可能都由机器来完成

The future of food production

食物生产的未来

Imagine a future where all farming is done by machine, and humans never set foot in the fields.

想象一下,未来所有的农活都由机器来完成,人类不再需要亲力亲为。

No, it's not science fiction. In Shropshire in the UK, engineers in the Hands Free Hectare project are developing automated tractors and fleets of drones to grow and harvest crops.

不,这不是科幻小说。在英国什罗普郡,“无人公顷计划”的工程师们正在研发自动型的拖拉机和无人机,帮助人们种植和收获庄稼。

And their experiment is not alone: agricultural robotics is a booming sector. Investment bank Goldman Sachs estimates the market will be worth $240bn over the next five years.

而且他们的试验也不是特例:农业机器人领域正蓬勃发展。高盛投资公司预计,接下来的五年时间里,这一市场的价值将达到2400亿美元。

One reason why the sector is on the up is that global demand for food is rapidly increasing. The World Bank estimates we will need to produce 50% more food by 2050 if the planet's population continues to grow at its current speed. Add to this to the forecast that yields will decrease by over a quarter due to climate change, and the situation looks serious.

这个行业发展迅猛的原因之一是全球对粮食需求的迅速增长。据世界银行预计,如果人口按照当下的增长速度一直持续,到2050年我们需要比现在多生产50%的粮食。此外,预测中还提到,由于气候变化,粮食产量将会减产四分之一以上。形势不容乐观。

Could futuristic farming provide the answer?

未来的农业能解决这个问题吗?

One company in Japan believes so. The firm Spread has dispensed with farming on land altogether, and instead grows vegetables on stacks of trays indoors in an automated factory.

日本的一家公司认为未来的农业可以解决这一问题。这家叫Spread的公司已经完全不依靠土地种植粮食,取而代之的是自动化工厂里的多叠层室内培育盘。

In countries like Japan, where land is actually a very scarce resource, it makes more sense to stack your production, just like a skyscraper, says JJ Price, Spread's global marketing manager.

“在日本这样的国家,耕地实际上已经十分紧缺,所以更应该采用纵向生产的方式,就像摩天大楼那样。”Spread公司的国际市场经理JJ普莱斯如是说。

Mr Price told the BBC that this method of vertical farming not only reduces costs by 50%, but it is also greener. LED lights cut energy bills by a third, and 98% of water can be recycled. By growing crops close to where people consume them, transport costs and emissions are also minimised, he says. They hope to be producing 30,000 lettuces per day next year.

普莱斯先生表示,这种纵向生产的方式不仅节约了50%的成本,而且生产方式也更绿色。使用LED灯能减少三分之一的电量消耗,而且98%的水都可以循环利用。在有需求的人群附近开展种植还能减少运输成本和尾气排放。他们希望明年的莴苣日产量能达到30000.

And where will we buy this futuristic food? Perhaps in shops with no staff? Amazon has recently launched its first Amazon Go store in the US, which has no checkouts. Customers simply pick their items from the shelves, and technology does the rest.

我们在哪里能买到这种未来方式种植出来的食品呢?或许在无人商店能买到?亚马逊最近已经在美国开启了第一家 Amazon Go无人商店。人们只需要挑选自己需要的商品,剩下的都交给科技完成。

All this begs the question: if everything is automated, what jobs will people do? The mechanisation of farming means fewer and fewer people work the land. From 1950 to 2010, agricultural labourers have decreased from 81% to 48.2% of the workforce in developing countries, and from 35% to 4.2% in developed countries, according to the International Labour Organization. It's a trend that looks set to continue.

这一切都让人不禁想问:如果全部使用自动化机器,那人们还有哪些工作可以做?农业机械化意味着需要越来越少的人投入农业生产。国际劳工组织指出,从1950年到2010年,发展中国家的务农人员已经从81%降到了48.2%,发达国家则从35%降到了4.2%。这是一个还将持续下去的趋势。

 

词汇表

to set foot (in)

去(某处)

automated

自动化的

fleet

舰队、船队

robotics

机器人技术

sector

行业,领域

on the up

蒸蒸日上的,稳步上升的

forecast

(对形势的)预测

yield

(农作物的)产量,常作复数

to dispense with

免去,不再使用

stack

LED lights

发光二极管照明技术

emission

(气、热、光等)排放物

checkout

收银处,付款台

to beg the question

引人发问

mechanisation

机械化

workforce

劳动人口

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