A Japanese company is preparing to open the world’s first robot-controlled farm. The facility is designed to produce 11 million heads of lettuce each year, and it’s expected to ship its first crop in Fall 2017. Relying on lessons learned from their first farm in Kameoka, SPREAD says their new business model will cut labor costs by 50 percent. The company claims sustainability is at the heart of what they do, and that the new 47,300 square feet Vegetable Factory in Kansai Science City will also reduce construction costs by 25 percent and energy demand by 30 percent.
Since it will be almost completely automated, SPREAD says the new facility will be able to produce 9,000 more heads of lettuce every day than they currently produce in Kameoka – with significant savings to boost profitability. SPREAD says on their website they are confronting the challenge of producing locally grown vegetables anywhere in the world by creating a low-cost and environmentally-friendly system that enables global expansion. Cutting labor by half is an essential part of that new equation.
“Seed planting will still be done by people, but the rest of the process, including harvesting, will be done [by industrial robots],” company official Koji Morisada told AFP.
On their website, SPREAD says three factors must be met to address sustainable farming: “The ability to consistently produce safe food in a stable manner → Social Sustainability; The ability to secure stable profits as a business → Economic Sustainability; The preservation of global resources and the environment → Environmental Sustainability.”
With an anticipated 98 percent water recycling rate, the Vegetable Factory will use 0.11 liters per head of lettuce produced, compared to 0.852 liters at their initial plant in Kameoka.
Via The Guardian
Images via SPREAD / Tech Insider