Growing things, Science, Science and Society, etc.

Factory farming of the vegetable kind

Well, I’m back!  We survived not only the Mongol Rally, but the ensuing two weeks in Ulaanbataar (more on that in another post, though).

Vegetable factory farming, China Daily August 18th 2012 , Click to enlarge.

In the meantime, I bring you some Chinese science journalism, courtesy of the free newspaper* on the plane between Ulaanbataar and Beijing. Or possibly Beijing and Hong Kong…

According to the article, a number of countries in East Asia are looking at a new-but-not-really technology for getting their daily 5: factory farms. For veggies.

First developed in Japan in the ’70s, they’re able to grow high yields in artificial environments, neatly dealing with the whole arable land issue.

Not only can these factories produce plants without natural sun/light, but also without real soil! Growing them inside, in  nutrient solution, means that they don’t need cleaning: if you think that’s trivial, look into the gigantic amounts of water and energy used for removing soil from our fresh produce…

It also means that pesticidies and fertilisers aren’t really necessary either - another good thing for people concerned both about food safety and our environment.

And, according to the chap quoted in the article, a Dr Yang Qichang, these veggies are generally of higher quality than their field-grown analogues, containing fewer nitrates and more vitamins.

The factories have been spreading through China and Japan, and are expected to be an important source of food in these regions, given that natural disasters and reaching the limit of convential yield increase technologies are a major factor already.

Anyhoo, for the full article, click on the image above.

Want your own personal vegetable factory? Well, look no further, because “one of Japan’s largest construction companies - Daiwa House recently introduced a line of ready-made hydroponic vegetable units called Agri-Cube.” I think I wants one, given the general horror that is Wellington’s climate :) Video below…

And if you’re interested in other, very clever intensive farming techniques being developed in the East, have a look at a previous blog post of mine about sky farming.

UPDATE: Also check out (thanks to again Tommy Leung, aka @The_Episiarch!)


* I happened to glance at the paper being held by the person in the seat in front of me, and saw this. Awesome :)