IIRC, many of these projects came from actual farmers, not design students.
There's a related project, the Greenhorns  working to recruit new, young farmers and support them as they get going - part of that is cutting equipment and labor costs. I chatted a couple of farmers who were using the produce washers built from old washing machines.
Is it a solution for large-scale industrial farming? No. But from hobby farmers up to ones doing a 50-100 share CSA model, it makes a lot of sense and reduces barriers to entry.
As a designer, if there is one thing that pisses me off about my own field, it is that design students often are not encouraged enough to co-create with real stake-holders and end up just throwing ungrounded high-concept nonsense out there.
There ya go.