Tokyo-based electronics retailer Toshiba has converted a disused electronics factory into a tech-powered vegetable farm. The factory has been equipped with optimised lighting, an air-conditioning system that maintains temperature and moisture levels, and a remote monitoring system to track growth.
The company aims to produce three million bags of lettuce, baby green leaves, spinach, mizuna (a type of oriental rape seed) and herbs each year, which is expected to result in profits of more than 300 million yen ($2.7m). Toshiba will aim to sell the produce to supermarkets, convenience stores, delicatessens and restaurants in Japan.
The vegetables will be grown in a predominantly germ-free environment using state-of-the-art technology that ensures germs are found at just one-thousandth of the level typically seen in vegetables grown in soil. Minimising the number of germs that come into contact with the food extends the shelf life and freshness of vegetable products for longer than those grown in soil. Meanwhile, according to website Quartz, because the clean environment in which the produce is grown is completely controlled, the crops can be produced without pesticides and don't need to be washed before eating.
Finding new ways to produce food is crucial, considering the world's population will increase by three billion by 2050, according to the United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organisation.
Toshiba's high-tech farming method reflects the growing trend for new ways to mass-produce food without reliance on land. For more advanced farming solutions, see Future Farming, and for more on future food production, take a look at Food Vision 2014 and Culinary Crickets.
To see how supermarkets are harnessing on-site produce production, read Evolution of the Supermarket.