Agronomy: Rube Goldberg on the Farm

The mechanization of U.S. agriculture has sent an incredible parade of improbable machines clanking across the nation's farm land. But the combines and cotton pickers that led the assault on traditional farming methods already seem outdated compared to the latest contraptions. On the campus of the University of California's College of Agricultural Engineering at Davis, the wildly inventive center of the farm-machinery revolution, a group of scientists and engineers are turning out automated Rube Goldberg devices faster than farmers can learn how to use them. Among the latest:

> THE PHRENOLOGICAL LETTUCE PICKER, which "feels" each lettuce head to...

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