Robots to Entirely Replace Farmers in Eco-Friendly Farm

October 14, 2015 | Kelly Tatera

Hydroponics system growing plants
Photo credit: Bryghtknyght/Wikipedia (CC BY 3.0)

A fully robotic farm is set to open in 2017 — bet you didn’t think robots would be taking human jobs that soon.

Farms of the future will be more high-tech than we could’ve imagined. Not only are farming techniques becoming more efficient and sustainable, but the farmers themselves will be robots. The world’s first farm manned entirely by robots is set to open in Japan in 2017.

A Japanese company, Spread, is building an indoor lettuce farm in which robots will plant lettuce seeds, raise vegetables, and automatically carry the fully-grown lettuce heads to a packing line to be sent to local grocery stores. The developers expect that, in a single day, the farm will be able to produce 30,000 lettuce heads — that’s about 10 million per year.

SEE ALSO: Will Floating Farms Be the Future of Food?

Spread envisions a world with more sustainable farming and cheaper production costs. Fast Coexist reports that Spread aims to cut labor costs by 50 percent, in turn reducing prices for consumers.

The company already operates a number of other indoor farms, all of which have a variety of environmental benefits. Their farms use significantly less water than traditional farms since the factory’s technology enables them to recycle up to 98 percent of their water. As the farming system is indoors and sealed, there’s no need for harmful pesticides. Plus, their artificial lighting system can be powered by renewable energy, also avoiding any farming flunks due to bad weather.

While the robots will run the farms, there’s still one task that the creators reserved for humans — to determine whether a seed has sprouted. Robots have the capacity to undertake many impressive tasks, but this one still requires a pair of human eyes. However, according to Popular Science, some computer vision systems have already been trained to distinguish between different pizza toppings, so developing a system to tell whether a plant has sprouted through soil shouldn’t be the task of the century.

Spread hopes to expand its robot-run farm idea and develop vegetable farms across the globe. "There are several reasons vegetable factories will be needed in the future in order to create a sustainable society," Kiyoka Morita from Spread told Fast Coexist.
With all the benefits the eco-friendly, robot-manned farm will reap, it’s an exciting endeavor, to say the least. And by 2017, who knows what other job industries we’ll see robots taking over.

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