World's first 'robot run' farm to open in Japan

February 1, 2016
A worker checks lettuces at the indoor farm of Spread company in its Kameoka factory in Kameoka city, Kyoto prefecture June 14,
A worker checks lettuces at the indoor farm of Spread company in its Kameoka factory in Kameoka city, Kyoto prefecture June 14, 2012

A Japanese firm said Monday it would open the world's first fully automated farm with robots handling almost every step of the process, from watering seedlings to harvesting crops.

Kyoto-based Spread said the indoor grow house will start operating by the middle of 2017 and produce 30,000 heads of lettuce a day.

It hopes to boost that figure to half a million lettuce heads daily within five years.

The farm, measuring about 4,400 square metres (47,300 square feet), will have floor-to-ceiling shelves where the produce is grown.

"Seed planting will still be done by people, but the rest of the process, including harvesting, will be done (by )," company official Koji Morisada told AFP.

The move to robot labour would chop personnel costs by about half and knock energy expenses down by nearly one third, Morisada added.

The pesticide-free lettuce will also have more beta carotene than other farm-grown , the company said.

Robot-obsessed Japan has repeatedly turned to automated workers to fill labour shortages that are projected to get worse as the country rapidly ages.

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not rated yet Feb 01, 2016
The values are quite bewildering. 30 000 heads/day every day for a year amounts to 11 million heads. At 300 grams/head that is about 3000 tons/year, almost 7500 tons/hectare/year. They are probably grown on vertical stacks, but even so it is impressive (actually a bit unbelievable). Potatoes yield a few tens of tons/hectare/year on open fields.
Feb 01, 2016
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not rated yet Feb 01, 2016
Interesting. I once thought about something similar: capturing sunlight with vertical panels. Of course, the panels have to be put at large distances one from the other in order to avoid shade. They were meant to be held by balloons and even encased in them. Farming with artificial light avoids the problem of shading. They probably use high power LEDs which are quite efficient and also allow selecting the effective light spectrum for photosynthesis (red light probably).

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