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Robots and Transformations of Work on Farms: A Systematic Review

Abstract : Agricultural robots are promoted as a solution to satisfy a growing demand for products while minimizing resource use. Following the recent development of the industry of farming robotics, we question how these technologies transform agriculture in a critical way. We carried out a systematic review of literature questioning the transformations of work related to robot’s adoption in agriculture. The scope encompasses a wide range of disciplines of social science and farm engineering. We consider four aspects of work: i. the farm structures and the labour market; ii. the technical-economic performances; iii. the organization of work; iv. the meaning of work. We also have a particular focus on Automatic Milking System (AMS) and we discuss the vivid controversies about which farms adopt them. Concerning the relationship between labour time and the AMS adoption, we highlight a gap between measurements and perceptions by farmers. While economics studies indicate a significant reduction, farmers observe an increase of their labour time. AMS also induces deep qualitative transformations in work organization: a scattering of duties through the day time and a global reordering of tasks on the farm. AMS increases work flexibility and changes farmers’ lifestyles but also produces mental workload and stress. Changes in animal-human relationship question the possibility of new identities and new self-perceptions by farmers and workers. We highlight two gaps that could be explored by further research: how the notion of digital labour in agriculture could lead to news ways of analysing work; and how adoption of robots reshapes the landscape of collective organisations of farmers.
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Contributor : Théo Martin <>
Submitted on : Wednesday, June 16, 2021 - 2:17:09 PM
Last modification on : Friday, June 18, 2021 - 3:01:39 AM


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Théo Martin, Pierre Gasselin, Nathalie Hostiou, Gilles Feron, Lucette Laurens, et al.. Robots and Transformations of Work on Farms: A Systematic Review. The 2nd International Symposium on Work in Agriculture, Mar 2021, Clermont-Ferrand, France. ⟨10.15454/2dwm-x990⟩. ⟨hal-03259549⟩



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