JAPAN: Harvesting Technology for Sustainability

AMANDA KRETSCH WRITES – In a technology-saturated world, it seems no lettuce leaf is left untouched.  Spread is a Kyoto-based Japanese company whose vision is to look for a sustainable way to bring fresh vegetables to the world, and they plan to open a robot-run farm in Kansai by 2017.  CEO, Shinji Inada, announced the new project, The Vegetable Factory, last year and promises a new low-cost and environmentally friendly system able to produce 30,000 heads of their “Vegetus” brand lettuce per day.

Scientifically, this is also a remarkable feat of sustainability. The respected magazine Popular Science details the environmental ingenuities of the facility, which include recycled water and lighting fueled by renewable resources. The crops do not need to be sprayed with pesticides, since they are not outdoors and exposed to harmful conditions.

However, The Wall Street Journal  doesn’t believe the machine is quite ready yet. The authoritative newspaper points out that humans must still identify the stages of seed growth; and there are some concerns that this eventual full-automation will eliminate jobs. However, Tech Insider argues this may harvest cooler human jobs that are more environmentally friendly and sustainable.

Another point to consider is that turning to robot-run systems may actually help alleviate Japan’s labor deficit. With an aging population and a lack of people to fill jobs, The Japan Times believes Spread’s farming innovations should prove an economic plus.

Spread’s automated farm will not only prove a technological and scientific advancement, but also a bumper crop for global sustainability and health. As we look toward 2017, the coming of the robot-run farm looks like yet another touch of technological genius from Japan.


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