Japanese Factories Growing Vegetables in Cleanroom-Like Conditions

June 4th, 2009

In a severely space constrained country like Japan, the appeal of the vertical growing arrangement is understandable. The yield per square meter of footprint is certainly many times that of traditional soil farming. Valcent Products, a company that’s developing vertical crop systems, claims a 20X increase in yield over field production. I don’t read Japanese, so I have no idea what the details are on Ozu Corporation’s technology and processes.

Micronutrients??? Maybe there is some kind industrial micronutrient soup that they mix in with the water. They could use sea water for micronutrients, but, because of pollution, doing so would probably ruin the branding strategy for these clean vegetables.

I must admit, on the one hand, I’m having difficulty maintaining a straight face as I’m writing about this—how effing nuts is this???—but on the other hand… I’m morbidly fascinated. For example, where do the seeds come from? How much electricity do these factories use per day? Are robots used?

Ninjas? Just tell me that ninjas guard the vegetable factories and I’ll be happy.

I’ll stick with dirty old dirt, thanks, and shit, fish guts and rotted plant matter in our garden, but it’s interesting to see where technophelia and the Myth of the Machine are headed.

Apologies for the Daily Mail link, but the pictures are MUST SEE.

Via: Daily Mail:

They look more like the brightly lit shelves of a chemists shop than the rows of a vegetable garden.

But according to their creators, these perfect looking vegetables could be the future of food.

In a perfectly controlled and totally sterile environment – uncontaminated by dirt, insects or fresh air – Japanese scientists are developing a new way of growing vegetables.

Called plant factories, these anonymous looking warehouses have sprung up across the country and can churn out immaculate looking lettuces and green leaves 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Every part of the plant’s environment is controlled – from the lighting and temperature, to the humidity and water. Even the levels of carbon dioxide can be minutely altered.

Rather than the conventional scruffy clothes and dirty fingernails of vegetable growers, the producers wear gloves, surgical masks and sort of dust proof protective suits normally seen in chemical plants.

The vegetables from plant factories – which include green leaf, romaine lettuce and garland chrysanthemum – are sold at a premium to Japanese shoppers. No pesticides are used – and there is no risk of contamination with food poisoning bugs.

One Response to “Japanese Factories Growing Vegetables in Cleanroom-Like Conditions”

  1. Eileen Says:

    I spend a fortune each year at Peaceful Valley Farm http://www.groworganic.com, my favorite place on the planet for supplies. The system in this pictorial reminds me some of the “speedling” seed starting trays I bought this year.
    Styrofoam (hard) trays with small holes in the bottom of each the fifty or more seed start cups. I also bought the trays for the speedling (which are actually made for holding wet shoes and boots). In any case the system is designed for developing roots on the seedlings.
    I used the speedling trays to start cucumber, zucchini, melons, etc – items that I would normally direct seed except for the fact that I have Mom to care for, caregiver health issues, a job, and then, well, I decided since I can’t get into the garden to plant, I’ll start all inside and move them out when I can.
    In three days time, over heat mats, and under lights, I already have cucumber seeds that have sprouted. I’ll be putting Neptune’s Harvest in the water soon and well, this is going to be interesting.
    Might look like the gig going on in the article here.
    I’ll take the outside garden anyday, but in an emergency situation, which is kind of what I’ve been going through lately, hmm. This indoor gardening does work.
    This winter I had lime, Meyer lemon, orange, and blood orange “trees” growing under an LED grow bar. The light is odd, not bright at all, but the plants thrived under it and I had four or five lemons, a couple of small golf ball oranges, and several quarter sized limes growing and thriving in Pennsylvania. Thriving in a dark cold basement in the dread of winter. That was something very cheering in the long dark days of winter.
    Its becoming more difficult for me to know when to plant in PA. I have growing food in my DNA – Grandma, Dad with his growing his tomato from seed, etc. But the last five years or so have been bizarre. A few weeks in April (!) with 90 degree heat, and then here we are in June with a high of 70 for several days, cold nights and some frost. I think next year I will have a garden bed ready for the heat wave that seems to come every year now before the trees leaf out. I can definitely envision having the whole house filled with plant starts just waiting for the settled weather, which seems to be unsettled for a lot longer than it used to be.

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