The Japanese giant Toshiba has converted one of its former factories into a sterilised clean room. This is used to grow stacks of lettuce plants in mineral-rich water instead of soil. It aims to produce 3 million bags of vegetables a year, consisting of lettuce, baby leaf greens, spinach, mizuna and herbs.
How does it work?
The factory is equipped with a wide range of technologies and knowledge from across the electronics company’s departments, including:
– Fluorescent lighting with an output wavelength optimized for vegetable growth
– Air-conditioning systems that maintain constant temperature and moisture levels
– Remote monitoring systems to track growth
– Sterilization systems for packing materials
Why choose high-tech farming?
The crops are grown in “almost germ-free clean rooms,” a condition that extends shelf life and freshness.
It allows you to conduct experiments on vegetables such as changing the colour of the lighting and testing whether this changes the taste. Generally, by collecting data on cultivation techniques they can achieve stable production of high-quality produce.
Vertical farming has also been popular for its environmental benefits because it requires less land to grow the same amount of food.
The existing high-tech farms produce lettuce 2.5 times faster than outdoor fields.
It is especially relevant in places such as the Middle East and Russia, where the tough environment means that outdoor farming is difficult. Therefore it enables local production and consumption without problems caused by location, weather, and temperature.
Similarly, indoor farming is immune to the threats that traditional agriculture is facing, such as growing numbers of insects and other pests.
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