'Green' weeding robot tested in rice paddies in Japan

A robot designed to provide a green method of weeding rice paddies is being tested out on a farm in Nagano Prefecture, central Japan.

The one-meter long robot, developed by a Tokyo-based venture firm, is solar-powered and moves on a programmed route for up to 10 hours.

Screw rotors on the underside churn the water in the paddy, removing young weeds. Muddy water also helps to suppress weed growth by reducing sunlight.

The robot is expected to be as effective as the ducks used by some farmers to remove weeds without using chemicals.

The owner of the paddies said he hopes the robot will ease the burden of weeding. He said the advanced technology should make farming fun and may encourage more people to take it up.