Amsterdam, The Netherlands – What do you think of vertical farming? Can it supplement feeding the world? What about farming with LED lights? When you hear this – you might rethink farming forever.
A large, global lighting company, Philips Lighting, has just announced results from trials of crops that were grown completely indoors with LED lighting. The vertical farms were grown without using pesticides and produced tons of leafy greens like lettuces and herbs. Furthermore, the crops are also completely wash-free.
The crops were trialed for 14 months with two Japanese customers fully equipped with vertical farms and horticultural LED lighting by Innovatus Inc., one of the world’s largest vertical farms. Apparently, Tokyo consumers are welcoming the vegetation made with this innovation. Additionally, Delicious Cook Co., Ltd. was the second Japanese customer trialing the crops for 10 months.
After Innovatus started a trial in March 2015 at its Fuji Farm with a total floor area of 1,851 m2, now it produces a whopping 12,000 heads of lettuce a day! Impressively, it can get freshly grown lettuce to consumers with only a two-hour ship time. (The ship times for American produce – from all over the world – are detrimentally long.) Using the Philips GreenPower LED production module, they grew five varieties of lettuces including frilled lettuce, green leaf and romaine. They were consistent quality, locally-produced and only used a fraction of the water compared to lettuces grown in open fields. Because of the hygienic environment these lettuces are truly “wash-free.” The Fuji Farm is still one of the largest completely closed-environment, vertical farms in the world using horticultural LED lighting.
Likewise, Delicious Cook’s trial used the LED module for vertical farming in a very small space – roughly 80 m2 on a footprint of 80 m2. They were able to grow uncommon herbs for their own food products like edible chrysanthemums and coriander (aka cilantro). As you can imagine, insourcing rather than outsourcing for supplies has saved them quite a bit of money and increased the fresh factor.
The Kanto area holds around one third of Japan’s population and now consumers will be able to buy foods that are processed in convenience stores, but that are made with fresh lettuce and herbs.
Philips’ first commercial vertical farming venture was opened at Osaka University in Japan in 2014. Japan is now said to be one of the fastest growing markets for Philips’ horticultural LED systems. They are collaborating with Japanese growers in order to improve the method and the “light recipes.”
Some of the pros of this type of farming are: obvious freshness – little ship time. No worry of pests or weather conditions. No need for chemicals and there is consistent lighting. Less facilities and human handling of produce – everything is done right there in the indoor facility. No need to constantly check soil conditions – no worry of soil depletion or run-offs. No GMO or pesticide contamination – no drifts of chemicals wafting into people’s homes. No need to use animals for the farming. Best of all – it cuts down on so much waste and provides much, much lower prices for the consumer.
It’s basically organic without the many conditions needed to grow organic, the pitfalls and the pesky high prices.
As Philips explains:
They provide everything to grow high-quality plants: the right light recipe, the ideal temperature, amount of water, CO2 and the best growing medium. This farming method leads to cleaner, pesticide-free crops with a consistently great taste and maximum nutrition.
Udo van Slooten, business leader for Philips Lighting’s Horticulture business said:
Increasingly, Japanese consumers are interested in a diverse variety of foods that have superior taste, are safe and nutritious as well as being offered at a reasonable price.
Vertical farms are an ideal way to meet this growing demand for safe, fresh food especially in a country with highly-urbanized areas where space is at a premium.
One of the rare downsides of this form of farming is that it does not take up the precious soil microbiome or the energy from natural sun light – and that’s what humans were used to eating and drinking for millennia, until only recently with sterilized vegetables and treated water instead of water from springs. That soil bacteria helps the gut too, and helps produce B vitamins. I imagine this concept is expounded in Dr. Josh Axe’s new book, Eat Dirt.
However, it’s clear to see that there are so many benefits to this type of growing method to supplement the food supply in a very major way. The nutrition alone from the short shipping times and sheer daily amount of crops has so much to offer. If Japan suffered another tsunami, for instance, food grown by LED lighted vertical farming in another part of the country could be sent to the area whose crops were wiped out. And with this method, there is no need to worry about radiation exposure from Fukushima or pollution from the sky falling to the crops. The United States could surely benefit from these farms – especially in drought-stricken California.
This writer would definitely supplement her diet with these crops – what about you? Sound off below and don’t forget to share!
Source: Philips Lighting Newsroom
This article (Japan Tries Radiation-Free, Pesticide-Free Vertical Farming With LED Lights) is free and open source. It can be republished with attribution to authors and Natural Blaze.com.