We all know how Japan is famous for some of the strangest inventions, however, amidst a large pool of such inventions there has actually been some really nice work going on. We are talking about indoor farming and the efficiency and yield of these farms is just shooting through the ceiling. An area of 25,000sq.ft. is producing a whopping 10,000 heads of lettuce on daily basis while consuming less than 40% power consumption, 80% less food wastage and 99% less than water usage when compared with conventional fields. This yield is a hundred times higher (per square foot) when looked at comparison in outdoor fields.
The advantages of indoor farming where one can control the climate are quite obvious; the crops don’t get affected by any weather events, crop disease or droughts and everything goes as planned. Japanese plant physiologist Shigeharu Shimamura working in Miyagi Prefecture in eastern Japan following a powerful earthquake incident and tsunamis in 2011 transformed the semiconductor factory (previously owned by Sony Corporation) into the world’s biggest indoor farm that was illuminated by LEDs. The LED fixtures were a courtesy of GE and the light being emitted had been modified so that it was emitted at wavelengths that is considered optimal for plant growth.
According to Shimamuar, “I knew how to grow good vegetables biologically and I wanted to integrate that knowledge with hardware to make things happen. What we need to do is not just setting (sic) up more days and nights. We want to achieve the best combination of photosynthesis during the day and breathing at night by controlling the lighting and the environment.”
These LED lights also allowed the team to control humidity, temperature and irrigation, thus reducing the water consumption by 99% while also managing to grow these crops 2.5 times faster. The GE Japan team is hopeful that indoor farms such as the one located in Miyagi Prefecture can prove to be a viable solution when it comes to battling food shortages in world. Miraj and GE are working on ‘plant factories’ in Hong Kong and in eastern parts of Russia. Shimumara said, “Finally, we are about to start the real agricultural industrialization.”