Farming's tech revolution to have losers as well as winners
Smart technologies such as robotics could revolutionise farming and even solve future labour shortage, but risk having a negative social impact unless handled properly, researchers have said.
From weeding to milking cows, more and more routine farming work can be done by machine - a trend that is changing agriculture "beyond recognition", according a study by researchers at the University of East Anglia.
Robots could be used in fruit picking to ease labour shortages, while robotics and artificial intelligence could save farmers money and protect the environment, they said.
But the social impact of these changes particularly on rural communities had not been fully considered, according to the paper published in the journal Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems.
"Robotics and artificial intelligence could cause job losses or change the nature of farming in ways that are undesirable to some farmers," said co-author David Rose, a lecturer in human geography.
"Others might be left behind by technological advancement, while wider society might not like how food is being produced," he said in a statement.
Decision-making could become concentrated in the hands of private companies and there could also be backlash similar to that against genetically modified crops, the study said.
Already, there is resistance to aspects of gene editing to make crops more desirable or resilient to changing weather patterns.