The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
World's First Robotic Farm to Produce 30,000 Heads of Lettuce Per Day
A new vegetable factory in Japan will be the world's first indoor farm without any farmers. Spread, a food technology company focused on sustainable growing, will open its robot-run, 4,800-square-meter facility in Kyoto in the summer of 2017, and will produce 30,000 heads of lettuce per day, or about 10 million heads per year, Mashable reported.
According to a press release, Spread's new facility will have two primary goals: low cost and environmental friendliness.
"Low cost was achieved by the full automation from seeding to harvest and the optimization of the energy used for the lighting and air conditioning," Spread reported. "Low cost was achieved from the increasing efficient use of optimized energy for automation, lighting, and air conditioning from seeding to harvest."
Labor costs will be reduced via the farm's highly automated cultivation process. A unique air conditioning system, as well as efficient custom-made LED lights, will further cut energy costs.
Like many other vertical farms, Spread's new veggie factory will not use pesticides or herbicides. It will also significantly minimize water use by recycling 98 percent of it. Temperature, lighting and moisture will be automated in order to optimize plant growth.
Spread already runs a prototype factory in Kameoka, Japan that produces about 21,000 heads of lettuce each day. The produce is then shipped to approximately 2,000 stores in Tokyo and the Kansai region, branded as Vege-tus.
Another purpose of the robot-run factory is to reduce any risks of human contamination, according to the company. “In the current factory located outside of Kyoto city, in Kameoka, Japan, any workers that come into physical contact with the lettuce must wear a cleanroom suit and go through an air shower," Spread Global Marketing Manager J.J. Price told Mashable.
“In the new Vegetable Factory, the risk of contamination is further reduced since the majority of processes will be fully automated—from raising the seedling to harvest—which will reduce the direct contact the lettuce has with people," Price said.
Roughly 1.6 to 2 billion yen ($12.9-16.2 million) is being invested into the project. Annual sales are projected to be 1 billion yen ($8.1 million), Spread said in its press release.
“The biggest challenge that we face is further decreasing the initial investment costs for construction, so that we can truly make this technology and technique affordable anywhere in the world,” Price told Mashable.
According to Fast Company, "compared to Spread's current factory, the new one will cut labor costs by 50 percent, so the company can sell lettuce at a lower price (now, it sells for the same cost as regular lettuce from the field)."
Spread's sustainable technologies augment efficiency for the company. “Operation costs have been falling due to advances in technology, such as more efficient LED lighting, water recycling and air management systems. The introduction of automation also reduces many of the associated labor costs, so we believe that we are on the right track,” Price said.
He added that the company seeks to diversify their products outside of lettuce and believes that the vegetable factory will be a big player in future of global food security. Indoor farms can be built in any climate and can adapt to extreme weather and natural disasters.
Japan currently imports about 60 percent of its food each year, but this new factory will increase local food options, according to Fast Company.
“For those who dream big, we can see this becoming an important part in space travel and colonization,” Price said. “Our system can fundamentally be built in many different environments and provides a highly efficient method to use resources and produce food.”
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Cabin fever is often associated with being cooped up on a rainy weekend or stuck inside during a winter blizzard.
In reality, though, it can actually occur anytime you feel isolated or disconnected from the outside world.
What is cabin fever?<p>In popular expressions, cabin fever is used to explain feeling bored or listless because you've been stuck inside for a few hours or days. But that's not the reality of the symptoms.</p><p>Instead, cabin fever is a series of negative emotions and distressing sensations people may face if they're isolated or feeling cut off from the world.</p><p>These feelings of isolation and loneliness are more likely in times of <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health-news/yes-covid-19-cases-are-rising-why-you-still-need-to-practice-social-distancing" target="_blank">social distancing</a>, self-quarantining during a <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/what-is-a-pandemic" target="_blank">pandemic</a>, or sheltering in place because of severe weather.</p><p>Indeed, cabin fever can lead to a series of symptoms that can be difficult to manage without proper coping techniques.</p><p>Cabin fever isn't a recognized psychological disorder, but that doesn't mean the feelings aren't real. The distress is very real. It can make fulfilling the requirements of everyday life difficult.</p>
What are the symptoms?<p>Symptoms of cabin fever go far beyond feeling bored or "stuck" at home. They're rooted in an intense feeling of isolation and may include:</p><ul><li>restlessness</li><li>decreased motivation</li><li><a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/irritability" target="_blank">irritability</a></li><li>hopelessness</li><li><a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/unable-to-concentrate" target="_blank">difficulty concentrating</a></li><li><a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/irregular-sleep-wake-syndrome" target="_blank">irregular sleep patterns</a>, including sleepiness or sleeplessness</li><li>difficulty waking up</li><li><a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/lethargy" target="_blank">lethargy</a></li><li>distrust of people around you</li><li>lack of patience</li><li>persistent <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/depression/depression-vs-sadness" target="_blank">sadness or depression<br></a></li></ul>
What can help you cope with cabin fever?<p>Because cabin fever isn't a recognized psychological condition, there's no standard "treatment." However, mental health professionals do recognize that the symptoms are very real.</p><p>The coping mechanism that works best for you will have a lot to do with your personal situation and the reason you're secluded in the first place.</p><p>Finding meaningful ways to engage your brain and occupy your time can help alleviate the distress and irritability that cabin fever brings.</p><p>The following ideas are a good place to start.</p>
When to get help<p>Cabin fever is often a fleeting feeling. You may feel irritable or frustrated for a few hours, but having a virtual chat with a friend or finding a task to distract your mind may help erase the frustrations you felt earlier.</p><p>Sometimes, however, the feelings may grow stronger, and no coping mechanisms may be able to successfully help you eliminate your feelings of isolation, sadness, or depression.</p><p>What's more, if your time indoors is prolonged by outside forces, like weather or extended shelter-in-place orders from your local government, feelings of <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/anxiety" target="_blank">anxiety</a> and fear are valid.</p><p>In fact, anxiety may be at the root of some cabin fever symptoms. This may make symptoms worse.</p><p>If you feel that your symptoms are getting worse, consider reaching out to a mental health professional who can help you understand what you're experiencing. Together, you can identify ways to overcome the feelings and anxiety.</p><p>Of course, if you're in isolation or practicing social distancing, you'll need to look for alternative means for seeing a mental health expert.</p><p>Telehealth options may be available to connect you with your therapist if you already have one. If you don't, reach out to your doctor for recommendations about mental health specialists who can connect with you online.</p><p>If you don't want to talk to a therapist, <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/depression/top-iphone-android-apps" target="_blank">smartphone apps for depression</a> may provide a complementary option for addressing your cabin fever symptoms.</p>
The bottom line<p>Isolation isn't a natural state for many people. We are, for the most part, social animals. We enjoy each other's company. That's what can make staying at home for extended periods of time difficult.</p><p>However, whether you're sheltering at home to avoid dangerous weather conditions or heeding the guidelines to help minimize the spread of a disease, staying at home is often an important thing we must do for ourselves and our communities.</p><p>If and when it's necessary, finding ways to engage your brain and occupy your time may help bat back cabin fever and the feelings of isolation and restlessness that often accompany it.</p>
Pope Francis spoke about the novel coronavirus, suggesting that the global pandemic might be one of nature's responses to the man-made climate crisis.
Thousands of swallows and other migratory birds have died in Greece trying to cross from Africa to Europe this spring.
- Trump Admin Moves to Weaken Restrictions on Killing Migratory Birds ›
- Millions of Songbirds Do Not Need to Suffer Gruesome Deaths So ... ›
Ringed seals spend most of the year hidden in icy Arctic waters, breathing through holes they create in the thick sea ice.
But when seal pups are born each spring, they don't have a blubber layer, which is their protection from cold.
- Trump Administration Approves Exploratory Drilling in Arctic Ocean ... ›
- Arctic Ship Traffic Threatens Narwhals and Other Extraordinary ... ›
New York state now has more confirmed coronavirus cases than any single country save the U.S. as a whole.
- U.S. Now Leads the World in Coronavirus Cases - EcoWatch ›
- Coronavirus Slowdown in Washington Suggests Social Distancing ... ›