This Robot-Run Farm Plans to Grow 10 Million Heads Of Lettuce A Year



by Adele Peters


When a sprawling new “vegetable factory” opens near Kyoto, Japan in 2017, it will be the first farm with no farmers. Robots will plant lettuce seeds, transplant them, raise the vegetables, and automatically carry the fully-grown lettuce heads to a packing line, where they can get ready to be sent to local grocery stores.

In a single day, the farm can harvest 30,000 heads of lettuce. On a traditional farm, a field of the same size can grow about 26,000 plants—but only harvest two or four crops a season.

Spread, the Japanese company planning the factory, opened its first indoor farm in 2006, and already supplies lettuce to 2,000 stores around Tokyo. But it saw the opportunity to make its process even more efficient. It sees the new farm as a model for the future of farming.

“There are several reasons vegetable factories will be needed in the future in order to create a sustainable society,” says Kiyoka Morita from Spread. Like other indoor farms, Spread's new factory uses far less water than traditional agriculture; the factory's new technology also allows them to recycle 98{257ecae47c7fec349321aca28547072fa2160c1991a573be7695613338f0f130} of that water. Because the factory is sealed, there's no need for pesticides or herbicides. The ultra-efficient lighting system can run on renewable energy. Japan imports about 60{257ecae47c7fec349321aca28547072fa2160c1991a573be7695613338f0f130} of its food each year, but the factory can supply it locally.


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Source:  Co.Exist

Lettuces by Gonmi, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License   by  Gonmi 

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