This Futuristic Lettuce Farm Used To Be A Microchip Factory
Fujitsu, the Japanese tech giant, wants to feed the world with fresh vegetables grown in an old semiconductor fabrication plant.
- 15 may 2014
Japanese electronics maker, Fujitsu Ltd., just started a lettuce farm. Well, it’s more of a lettuce factory. A super futuristic lettuce factory.
The Aizu-Wakamatsu Akisai Vegetable Plant is a 2,000 square meter (about half an acre) facility based out of the clean-room of a renovated semiconductor fabrication plant. Clean-rooms need to be free of environmental contaminants since even a single speck of dust could ruin the production of microcircuitry.
While the same is not true for the production of lettuce, the space does allow for complete control over every aspect of a crop’s development. Beginning in July of 2013, the field-trials for this new process are aimed at cultivating a variety of low-potassium lettuce so that sufferers of chronic kidney disease—whose diets need to be low in potassium—can enjoy fresh vegetables year round. The lettuce is also said to be kid-friendly since a low nitrate nitrogen level makes it less bitter. At ¥500 ($4.90) per 90g the specialty crop is significantly more expensive than common varieties, but medical value and kid appeal are just two benefits of this new farming process.
This video is a peek into the sleek futuristic low-potassium lettuce factory. It’s pretty cool, even for those of us who don’t speak Japanese:
The clean-room facility is equipped with sensors that help determine and maintain optimal growing and atmospheric conditions. By constantly gathering and applying data the system can also ensure higher crop yields and more accurate harvest schedules. Plus, a clean-room means no bugs and no pesticides.
This project employs Fujitsu’s Akisai Food and Agriculture Cloud, which uses big data to oversee every thing from operations management to crop production to sales and forecasts.
The Akisai Cloud promises increased quality control and less waste. By aggregating information from multiple producers, as well as adjustments in global supply and demand, the system is able to ship fresh produce to specific regions in quantities that won’t go to waste.