Leave it to the Japanese to once again bring ingenuity and technology to bear on an age old problem. Inconsistencies in climate conditions have plagued farmers for centuries across countries, rendering crop variances that dramatically impact not only their individual livelihoods but also the supply to their consumer. Not anymore, saya Shigeharu Shimamura. Shimamura-san, a Japanese plant physiologist, has moved industrial scale farming indoors.
In the Miyagi Prefecture in the east of Japan, one of the areas hardest hit by the tsunami which destroyed many farms, Shimamura-san acquired a former Sony semiconductor factory and transformed it into the world’s largest indoor farm. The farm utilizes 17,500 LED lights spread over racks containing 15 levels of plantings. The LED lights emit light at wavelengths optimal for plant growth and simulate the night-to-day cycle while also accelerating growth meaning that the plants grow 2.5x faster than in a conventional farm. Also, the LEDs last longer and consume 40 percent less power than fluorescent lights.
The lettuce he grows contains the same amount of vitamins and minerals as conventionally grown lettuce but with higher yields. Because of the consistency of the environment, the farm only has 10% of harvest loss to discarded produce, versus 50% discarded produce as seen on a conventional farm. Further the ecological footprint of the farm is smaller in that it uses only 1% of the amount of water used in regular farms. thanks to controls on temperature, humidity and irrigation.
Shimamura-san’s indoor farm, opened only in July this year, is already producing 10,000 heads of lettuce per day. When asked why he decided to take on such a project, Shimamura-san says, “I knew how to grow good vegetables biologically and I wanted to integrate that knowledge with hardware to make things happen. Finally, we are about to start the real agricultural industrialization.”Pin It