A Japanese company will open the world’s first farm run by robots, as it looks to tackle the labour shortage caused by the country’s ageing population.

Apart from planting seeds, the robots will complete every other task to run a large lettuce farm, including re-planting sapling, watering, trimming and harvesting the produce.

The machines will look like robotic arms attached to conveyor belts, made to transfer lettuce saplings without damaging them. They will also be able to control the humidity, temperature, water, light and carbon dioxide levels in the indoor farm.

The robots, being introduced in 2017, will increase production from 21,000 to 50,000 lettuces a day, the vegetable producer Spread said. It planned to increase this to 500,000 lettuces daily within five years. The machines will help reduce labour costs of running the farm by half.

The company’s first robot farm will be in Kameoka in Kyoto prefecture, with plans to build more in Japan and elsewhere in the world.