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I, Robot Farmer

FYI: Green

February 2017

The United Nations estimates the world’s population will reach 9.7 billion by 2050. That’s why Kyoto, Japan–based SPREAD is employing robots to help feed them. “Farming using robots will have an important role in the future because it can overcome global food shortage and agricultural issues by improving productivity,” says J.J. Price, global marketing manager at SPREAD.

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This year, the company will unveil Techno Farm, the world’s first large-scale plant factory, where robots perform 50 percent of the labor—from raising seedlings to cultivation.

SPREAD has been developing more-sustainable food production systems to counter global population growth, water shortages, and climate change since 2006. Its Kameoka plant grows 21,000 lettuce heads a day in a controlled, sunless environment using LED lighting and recycled water. Using robots, Techno Farm will increase crop production to 30,000 lettuce heads a day while reducing labor costs by half.

The company plans to build more Techno Farms throughout Japan and is looking for partners to expand overseas.

More information is at bit.ly/2k6hbOV

Photography by Shutterstock