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Japan Plant Factory Association Announces Innovative approach to sustainability with Plant factories with artificial lighting (PFAL)

Industry: Agriculture

A New approach to sustainability with plant factories was announced this month by Toyoki Kozai, Japan Plant Factory Association (NPO)

New York City, NY (PRUnderground) April 18th, 2019

Plant Factory is a facility that aids the steady production of high-quality vegetables all year round by artificially controlling the cultivation environment (e.g., light, temperature, humidity, carbon dioxide concentration, and culture solution), allowing growers to plan production.  Japan leads the world in the cutting-edge technology contained in plant factories and it continues to motivate entrepreneurs and start-ups.

In the book “Smart Plant Factory: The next generation indoor vertical farms”, Toyoki Kozai has tried to provide readers with an accurate understanding of plant factories. The book presents an overview of the role of plant factories in the 21st century. Furthermore, it comprises of a lucid description of the concept, characteristics, methodology, design, management, business, recent advances and future technologies of plant factories with artificial lighting (PFAL) and indoor vertical farms. According to the Shift, indoor farming is the future of urban farming as it allows vertical farms that grow all crops, in any place, at any time. It has been observed that there is an emerging interest around the globe in smart PFAL R&D and business and this book tries to cover smart solutions in PFAL et al.

In another book, “Light-Emitting Diodes, the readers can gain insight into the latest theories, technologies, and applications of LEDs based on III-V semiconductor materials. Jinmin Li and G.Q. Zhang describe the latest developments of LEDs with spectral coverage from ultra-violet (UV) to the entire visible light wavelength. The book is a highly recommended read for all the researchers and students working with semiconductors, optoelectronics, and optics. It delves into the various novel ways LEDs can be used, for example, the benefits of LEDs in healthcare and wellbeing or the innovative solutions LEDs can provide in horticulture and animal breeding. The foreword of the book is written by Hiroshi Amano, one of the 2014 winners of the Nobel Prize in Physics for his work on light-emitting diodes. Overall, the book is an interesting, thought-provoking read.

In a research paper, “Benefits, problems, and challenges of plant factories with artificial lighting (PFALs), T. Kozai has discussed the potential and actualized benefits of the PFAL, the current unresolved problems of PFALs and the challenges for the smart PFAL. According to the Kozai, the global and local trilemma on foods, resources, and environment can be solved with the help of PFALs. According to Kozai et al., the benefits of the PFAL are high resource-use efficiency (RUE), high annual productivity per unit land area, and the production of high-quality plants without using pesticides. However, high initial investment, electricity, and labor costs remain a challenge which has further led to a limited number of profitable PFALs.  Kozai suggests that it is vital to understand the concepts behind the benefits and the methodology before designing and operating a PFAL to actualize the potential benefits of the PFAL. In addition to the above, a considerable amount of systematic research, development, and marketing with the appropriate vision, mission, strategy, and methodologies is also crucial. The research on PFALs shows that actualization of potential benefits is relatively easy compared to a greenhouse in which the energy and material balance and the plant-environment relationship is much more complex. Hence, the straightforward approach with respect to the PFAL is helpful.

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