Home Researches Farming of the future: Toshiba’s ‘clean’ factory farm where three million bags...

Farming of the future: Toshiba’s ‘clean’ factory farm where three million bags of lettuce are grown without sunlight OR soil

51 353978
Toshiba

Japanese technology giant Toshiba has unveiled a huge factory farm where it is growing various types of lettuce leaves without sunlight or soil for sale in its new healthcare business. Located in disused 21,000-square foot electronics factory in Yokosuka, Toshiba claims to have created a perfect ‘germ free’ environment where it will grow three million bags of lettuce a year. Completely cut off from conditions outside the temperature and humidity controlled isolation tank, lettuce inspectors wear full body suits while making notes on the quality and growth of the leaves on their tablet computers in order to prevent the air around the plants becoming contaminated. Each plant is blasted with artificial lighting to trick it into believing it is exposed to sunlight, while vitamins and nutrients are injected directly into its roots, meaning the lettuce does not need soil. The goal of Toshiba’s new high-tech farm is to produce the world’s highest quality lettuce. The final product will be free of any form of bacteria, fungi or insect life before being placed into sealed bags, which should ensure the product has a longer shelf life than other lettuces.

1415811154683_Image_galleryImage_Mandatory_Credit_Photo_by

The gardening technique aims to have a bacteria ration of no more than 1/1000th – considerably lower than that found in normal gardening soil. Toshiba aims to harvest three million bags of leaf lettuce, baby leaf greens, spinach, mizuna and herbs every year – with each bag likely to cost consumers £1.  The ultimate in organic vegetables, the lettuces require no pesticides but are expected to have a similar shelf to plants that have been heavily treated with chemicals.  The lettuce factory is no marketing gimmick by Toshiba, however. Instead it represents the company’s latest attempt to diversify its technology-led business. There are already plans for the technology giant to build similar factories around the world over the coming years – and it will also be selling the high tech equipment that allows factories to produce similar products of exceptionally high quality.

1415811947626_Image_galleryImage_Mandatory_Credit_Photo_by

Toshiba was founded in 1938 as Tokyo Shibaura Electric through the merger of Shibaura Seisaku-sho, founded in 1875, and Tokyo Denki, founded in 1890. The company name was officially changed to Toshiba Corporation in 1978.

admin

SIMILAR ARTICLES

Cyber cuttlefish: Marine robot mimics creature’s undulating swimming to explore the ocean

0 412

Researchers from Boston test drug that slow down Alzheimer’s

0 1348
  • skeanthu

    What about all the fresh water this wastes?

    • Zeo

      Good point, I wonder if it’s captured and used elsewhere. That would be socially responsible for that corporation to do.

      • CriticalofYou

        No not a good point. This is way more efficient on water than regular farming, Hydro systems are closed and recirculated. Reusing water.

        • Zeo

          Your name is incredibly relevant. And my feelings are hurt, but I understand and accept your viewpoint.

      • Lemon

        It’s not the first company to do so. It’s just derived from NASA experiments, so it’s not pattented nor is it rocketscience.

    • Nigel McKee

      what do you mean? Aren’t hydroponic systems like, the most water efficient way of growing things? It’s a closed system except for water lost as it evaporates from the leaves. The rest of the water just gets pumped round in circles whilst being topped up with the optimum level of nutrients added (incredibly efficient in fertiliser use this way too - NONE of it gets washed away with the rain as in traditional farming)

      • Gale Gleason

        Not only that, but they can use air conditioning systems to recycle the water out of the air.

    • Trotar

      This way of farming actually waste less water

    • RV90

      It uses significantly less water than traditional growing methods. I’m not sure I would call it “wasting” anyway it’s growing food, hardly a waste.

      • skeanthu

        Thanks.

    • Boring Answer

      Hydroponic gardening is about 99% more efficient than regular farming in soil for water consumption.

    • zilti

      Yeah, because, you know, this is located in a desert and produces stuff no one needs…
      *facepalm*

  • Ololita

    Hydro for salad? it remember me something

  • ola

    Where do the injected vitamins and nutrients come from?

    • schmeden

      O_O …don’t ask

    • Quincy (Engineer)

      Its Hydroponics.
      There is water flowing through with nutrients dissolved in.
      This is common knowledge, you dont take a need and inject fucking nutrients.

      • marzipantone

        Easy, Quincy. They used the word “injected” in the article.

        • Tiaan Brink

          verb (used with object)
          1.
          to force (a fluid) into a passage, cavity, or tissue:
          to inject a medicine into the veins.
          2.
          to introduce (something new or different):
          to inject humor into a situation.
          Introduce is clearly a synonym for inject. I’m sure point one and two apply here. The opening below the actual vegetable where the roots grow constitutes as a passage.

  • btodder

    How energy intensive is this operation?

    • Mason

      Judging by the 100+ lights viewable in the photos, and the thousand feet of styrofoam, and the plastic trays, computers, and labor etc. - probably very.

    • jeff Castle

      This article doesn’t go into it but the big part of this project is the special LED lights Toshiba created to conserve energy while hitting plants with as much energy they can use. Basically, the lights are optimized past what normal sunlight would provide. In fact I would call the lights the cornerstone of the entire thing as without them Toshiba is doing nothing new. The water conservation, nutrient baths, and sterile environment have all been possible for at least 20-30 years but without the efficient lights it was all economically impossible.

    • driversuzz

      The Problem: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H4zSRkBMPng …..

  • veronicablood

    imagine how much pot they could grow….

    • driversuzz

      The Problem: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H4zSRkBMPng

      • Battlemageguy

        What did I just watch?

    • sushibi

      []= uc k me running.

      • Batman

        I will when I catch you;)

    • Battlemageguy

      lol

  • http://trololololololololololo.com/ derpatron5000

    So if they are growing 3 million “bags” of lettuce in a 21,000 sq ft facility, does that mean I could grow 30,000 “bags” of lettuce in a 210 sq ft space?

    • jeff Castle

      Economies of scale friend. You still need a sterilization room, pump facility, etc. In the future setting up a micro farm in your back yard may be still become simple and affordable though.

    • rettdavis

      I imagine cubic feet are more important as you can go vertical with your systems.

    • driversuzz

      ….The Problem: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H4zSRkBMPng

  • John N

    One day, I’d love to sew a comment section not full of people attempting to pool their ignorance. Also, cited article sources would be nice!

    • zarnon

      “I’d love to sew a comment section not full of people attempting to pool their ignorance. “.

      Spell check before calling others ignorant. Thanks bunches.

      • dk

        Nice !

      • John N

        One mobile typo does not equate to ignorance any more than your condescension does to wit, nor does it counter the fact that a lot of the time comments section quality could be improved with a judicious google search.

        • Battlemageguy

          Instead of sending the message you just sent you could of just edited your old one, you would seem a lot more intelligent

      • Battlemageguy

        Spell check is probably one of the best features of any messaging

  • Equalvision

    hell ya! the future of agriculture! We won’t need GMO pest resistant plants anymore if we just grow everything in facilities like this. No pests in a controlled environment, no chemicals, healthier food, healthier people.

    • Quincy (Engineer)

      You are literally an idiot.
      Who says this isn’t Genetically Modified lettuce.
      And Hydroponics has been around since the 90’s

      This isn’t a new process, It’s just new that a company has scaled up production in a clean room hydroponic system.

      • Guest

        Quincy is unnecessarily harsh and there’s no need to insult anyone.

        I did want to comment that GMOs would likely
        be even more valuable here and would address concerns that people have
        with current GMOs. You can splice (or hybridize if you don’t like the shortest route) plants which are
        solely designed to grow in this environment and that would die in a
        normal environment. As you mentioned we don’t need to introduce genes for insect
        or pesticide resistance, but we can also remove ones that are already there or add genes to improve light absorption. Doing so would increase
        their efficiency and reduce their viability in a natural environment.
        That means the possibility of introducing GMOs into the wild is drastically reduced. (Although, it’s more an idealogical concern IMHO
        since natural selection will decide if those new genes are beneficial.)
        Consider farm chickens and cows which have been bred for generations,
        many of them can’t reproduce naturally and don’t have the defensive
        capabilities seen in their wild relatives. I do take issue with some of these practices when they add suffering to animal’s life cycle, but that’s another story.

    • Quincy (Engineer)

      You literally put your chemical nutrients straight into the water…..
      Believe it or not, even water is a chemical. Your use of the word implies your ignorance.

    • Javier Rosa

      Your greatest fan below, Quincy, is unnecessarily harsh and I don’t see the need to insult anyone.

      I did want to comment that GMOs would likely be even more valuable here and would address concerns that people have with current GMOs. You can splice (or hybridize if you don’t like the shortest route) plants which are solely designed to grow in this environment and that would die in a normal environment. As you mentioned we don’t need to introduce genes for insect or pesticide resistance, but we can also remove ones that are already there or add genes to improve light absorption. Doing so would increase their efficiency and reduce their viability in a natural environment. That means the possibility of introducing GMOs into the wild is drastically reduced. (Although, it’s more an idealogical concern IMHO since natural selection will decide if those new genes are beneficial.) Consider farm chickens and cows which have been bred for generations,
      many of them can’t reproduce naturally and don’t have the defensive capabilities seen in their wild relatives. I do take issue with some of these practices when they add suffering to animal’s life cycle, but that’s another story.

  • http://lambright.com/ wayne lambright

    Awesome, I love lettuce.

  • Jeff Adams

    Weird that they don’t say anything about the costs of the system or the type of lighting/nutrients they’re using. I’ve personally grown tomatoes with HPS bulbs and hydroponic systems. Costs add up quickly. I’m assuming they’re using LEDs because of the sentence about meeting the ideal light spectrum for the plant, but quality LED lights are even more expensive than HPS lights (product cost, not operating cost). Though I guess they get a discount because they, umm, actually manufacture them.

  • http://www.hausloop.com/ hausloop

    I still think that a lettuce or any other vegetable or fruit would have a better taste when is grown under the sunshine. This is still an artificial way to grow “plants”, remember chlorophyll ?

    • Alexis

      What do you mean “remember chlorophyll”? Plants need certain spectrums of light to grow - sunlight is nice because all spectrums are present, but you can easily replicate those spectrums with artificial light. There isn’t a “superior” form of light spectrums, and the spectrum of light provided by the sun or a bulb are the same.

      • http://www.hausloop.com/ hausloop

        Yes, i agree, but i was talking about the taste. You can’t compare the tomatoes for instance grown in grandparents yard with the tomatoes grown out of season with artificial lights. I don’t know if you tasted one of those but that taste i was talking about.

  • Colorado12345

    The grow operation in this article is nothing new and not very impressive compared to the many indoor grow operations. The one thing that really sticks out to me is that they are calling this “organic” bc the lack of pesticides. Sterile, hydroponic systems here are commonly known as non-organic bc they use synthetic nutrients, which also typically leave the product with less taste and health benefits. In real organic farming the bacteria is your best friend, the soil is alive with many, many living organisms that all interact to breakdown nutrients and feed them to the plant, and then to you. The only possible advancements here are the new lighting systems that many of the companies (phillips) are making that are able to grow plants with less energy and a better light spectrum. Either way, this is a very non-earth friendly way to grow. Lots of energy used and lots of trash and waste water produced.

    • Jordan

      Is it possible that advances in nutrient may result in a healthier plant for consumption? Where exactly did you get your information that plants that use synthetic nutrient are less tasty and less healthy? I do agree that this is not earth friendly. But there also must be a way to treat this waste water as well.

  • Battlemageguy

    God we have come a long way from a decade ago