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With crops "only a touch away"

South Korea and smart farming

Lim Ju-wan is the representative of a floriculture cooperative of nine farms based in Goyang, north of South Korea’s capital Seoul, that raises roses at smart greenhouses covering a combined 44,000 square meters of land.

Lim normally starts the day by taking out his smartphone to check his greenhouse instead of going outside to his land like traditional farmers. "I do not need to physically go to the greenhouses by myself as I can see what's going on there through my smartphone," Lim said, marveling at how things have changed for the better compared to the past, when he really had no choice other than to actually deal with routine, time-consuming chores.

South Korea's has been one of the pioneers in adopting smart farming, the concept of utilizing cutting-edge technologies to allow farmers to control all aspects of raising crops automatically and through remote control methods.

A smart farm is capable of automatically controlling environmental conditions such as temperature based on its database customized for different crops. Even sprinkling pesticides can be done without the intervention of people.

Agricultural Corporation Wooil Farm Co., based in Hwaseong, south of Seoul, is another example of how smart farming solutions can revolutionize the traditional agricultural industry. The smart farm, South Korea's largest, producing around 3,000 tons of tomatoes annually, said its staff members do not even have to stay at the monitoring office as they can check the status of the farm through their smartphones.

"I believe that smart farming solutions have minimized the intervention of people at farms. We would have had to hire 20 percent more staff members if it was not for smart farming," You Hyun-sung, a director of Wooil Farm, said.

While the smart farming industry is still in a nascent stage here, the Agriculture Ministry said it will continue to push for ways to create solutions that are more accessible for younger farmers, the official said.

In line with the plan, the government aims to establish so-called smart farm valleys at four locations throughout the country by 2022, where young farmers can rent plots of land for smart farms at reasonable fees for three years before deciding on their future course of action in the sector.

The government plans to invest around 64 billion won (US$54 million) in each smart farm valley, which aims to foster 500 young agricultural experts by 2022. The tenants of the smart farm valleys will be provided with low-interest loans to minimize their financial burden.


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