(NaturalNews) The future of food production could end up doing away with the growing fields and even the sun. A Japanese plant physiologist has developed an indoor growing system that he says produces lettuce 250 percent faster than traditional farms, requires far less water and generates significantly less produce waste.
Using LED technology developed by the GE corporation, Shigeharu Shimamura was able to create a 25,000 square foot indoor space that currently houses 18 cultivation racks for growing lettuce. These racks are 15 stories high and contain a total of 17,500 LED lights specially designed for the optimal growing of lettuce.
The proprietary lighting system mimics the day and night cycle of the real outdoors, but at a highly accelerated pace. Together with carefully controlled climate and moisture conditions, Shimamura and GE were able to fine-tune a complex system that generates large amounts of healthy food very quickly, without producing significant amounts of waste.
“I knew how to grow good vegetables biologically and I wanted to integrate that knowledge with hardware to make things happen,” he explained to GE Reports.
Indoor produce farm generating 10,000 heads of lettuce daily
Having gotten the idea from a “vegetable factory” that was featured at the Expo ’85 world’s fair in Tsukuba when he was just a teenager, Shimamura had ever since been inspired to start his own indoor growing facility. And after the Fukushima disaster of 2011, he finally got his chance.
According to GE Reports, Shimamura was able to turn a former Sony Corporation semiconductor factory in eastern Japan’s Miyagi Prefecture, which was damaged by the earthquake and tsunami, into the world’s largest indoor growing farm. And today, this farm produces an astounding 10,000 heads of lettuce daily, with an average loss of only 10 percent of the harvest.
A typical outdoor produce farm, on the other hand, loses up to 50 percent of its harvest, representing a 400 percent reduction in waste. Beyond this, the specialized temperature and humidity conditions inside the farm require just 1 percent of the total amount of water typically required for outdoor growing operations.
All these tweaks have created ideal growing conditions that Shimamura says have resulted in a 100-fold increase in productivity. This means 100 times more food can be grown in the relatively small indoor space he created compared to outdoor grow operations, which are still threatened by residual radiation contamination.
“What we need to do is not just [set] up more days and nights,” he stated. “We want to achieve the best combination of photosynthesis during the day and breathing at night by controlling the lighting and the environment.”
Are indoor produce ‘farms’ the future of food for planet Earth?
For GE Japan, the technology offers hope for humanity moving into the future. The drastic improvements in yield and productivity offered by Shimamura’s concept stand to address the world’s growing food shortage problems, particularly in the face of drought and other similar challenges.
Since its LED technology is working so well at maximizing the growth rate of lettuce, this due to its ability to produce light at wavelengths ideal for plant growth, GE Japan is already working on similar growing facilities both in Hong Kong and the Far East of Russia. Together, the duo hopes to bring real change to those in need.
“Finally, we are about to start the real agricultural industrialization,” said Shimamura with confidence.
With the Government wilfully undermining the UK’s small but fast-growing solar power sector for the second time, Jonathon Porritt wonders … why the attacks on what is our second lowest cost source of renewable energy, and getting cheaper all the time?
Last Friday was Solar Independence Day. And I felt angry – at this Government’s incomprehensible failure to seize hold of the opportunity to promote the UK’s solar industry as one of the best ways of ensuring a low-carbon, secure, sustainable energy system for our country. Really angry.
In fact, I couldn’t sleep that night for all the unanswerable questions racing through my mind. So I had to get it down that very morning in the form of a letter to Secretary of State Ed Davey andMinister of State Greg Barker. The DECC duo.
First, let’s see if we agree on the facts:
- The UK still needs a whole lot more renewably-generated electricity if we’re to have a hope in hell of meeting our mandatory EU target for 2015. And despite your protestations at the Big Green Week Election Debate, the recently published EU-Tracking Roadmap for renewable energy shows the UK still coming in 26th out of 28 countries, with it providing just 4% of total energy. Despite us having some of the best resources of any country in the EU.
- Many other EU countries have sort-of got the hang of solar. On 21st June, 50% of daytime electricity in Germany was generated by solar power. Italy is going great guns, and the global industry is booming.
- Solar is the second cheapest source of renewables in the UK. Prices have fallen by an astonishing 65% since your Coalition Government came into office, and are projected to continue falling by around 5% per annum through to 2020. I’m sure you’ve worked out the implications of that.
- At that point, subsidy-free solar will be competing on price with every other source of electricity in the UK.
- UK Solar grew by around 15% in 2013, with at least two-thirds of that growth coming from large-scale, ground-mounted solar farms.
- And this means jobs (16,000), generated mostly through vibrant small companies (2,000 of them), creating a new source of wealth for business, farmers and communities. Around 60% of that investment comes from UK businesses – a much higher percentage than with most energy sources.
- Concerns about both energy security (think Iraq, Ukraine etc) and climate change (think 400ppm and ever more extreme weather events) grow and grow. Solar and radical improvements in energy efficiency are both critical elements in addressing these crises.
- Solar is by far the most favoured source of renewable energy in the UK (with 85% approval ratings across the general public), with the highest rate of success in planning applications (again, around 80%).
These are the facts. Even your Chief Scientific Advisor, David McKay, probably recognises by now that he got the potential for solar so badly wrong in his otherwise quite useful ‘Hot Air‘ tome. He is a scientist, after all, and facts are meant to count for something.