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First fully automated lettuce farm by 2017

04 February 2016

The world’s first ‘robot farm’ will harvest 50,000 heads of lettuce a day when it comes online next year. 

The farm, located in Kyoto, will rely on robots for everything from re-planting young seedlings to watering, trimming and harvesting crops.

It is the brainchild of Spread, a vegetable producer, which currently harvests 21,000 lettuce heads a day at its Kameoka farm. 

The company said that with the help of robots, they will harvest half a million lettuce heads a day within five years. 

“The seeds will still be planted by humans, but every other step, from the transplanting of young seedlings to larger spaces as they grow to harvesting the lettuces, will be done automatically,” said JJ Price, Spread’s global marketing manager.

The farm will require half the amount of labour that a similar farm of its size would require. The use of LED lighting will mean that energy costs are reduced by a third and 98 per cent of the water needed to grow the crops will be recycled. 

“There are water and food shortages due to extreme weather events accompanied by the increasing global population,” the company said in a press release.

“Amid these problems, Spread has been working to lay the foundation for a more secure and sustainable society.”

Japan has an ageing, dwindling workforce, and its agricultural sector is increasingly looking to automation in order to fill labour gaps. 

The Nomura Research Institute predicted in a recent report that nearly half of all jobs in Japan could be performed by robots by 2035.

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