One of the world’s largest all-LED indoor-farms completed in Miyagi prefecture?State-of-the-art agriculture from Japan’s Tohoku region to the world
Mirai, Inc. has completed an indoor farm at Miyagi Fukko (Reconstruction) Park located in Tagajo, Miyagi Prefecture, as part of a program subsidized by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI). One of the world’s largest plant factories using LED lighting throughout, the facility can produce a daily harvest of approximately 10,000 heads of lettuce.
The indoor farm was created through the renovation of an existing building that was previously an electronic device factory at Sony Sendai Technology Center in Miyagi Fukko Park, utilizing the structure’s special characteristics, such as clean-room facilities, thermal insulation systems and high ceilings. Kajima Corp. was in charge of the facilities design and construction, as well as the engineering of a rack system for cultivation, while GE Japan Corp. was responsible for the specialized indoor farm LED lights.
Supporting recovery and new industry in Tohoku through advanced agriculture
Miyagi Fukko Park was established by the Miyagi Organization for Industry Promotion at facilities on loan from Sony Sendai Technology Center as a center to assist in the recovery of manufacturing industries and for the generation and development of new industries in the Tohoku region, which was devastated by the Great East Japan Earthquake.
Immediately following the Great East Japan Earthquake, GE Japan initiated new projects in the agricultural sector aimed at supporting the reconstruction effort for the Tohoku region. In undertaking this effort, GE Japan partnered with Mirai, which has abundant expertise in this field. With a view to expansion in operational scale, and with Mirai as its main constituent, the project was subsequently selected as a “Research and Development Project for the Creation of New Industry Through IT Integration” by the Tohoku Bureau of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.
Since April 2012, GE-made LED lighting, water processing and data analysis systems have been among those in use in the ongoing research and development project at the indoor farm installed within Miyagi Fukko Park.
Major results of research and development (conducted from April 2012 through March 2013)
Mirai drew up plans for the indoor farm at Miyagi Fukko Park in response to an open solicitation by METI’s Innovation Center Assistance Program for projects that could qualify for subsidies as advanced technology demonstration and evaluation facilities.
Characteristics of the facility
Until now, plant factories have typically used fluorescent lamps for artificial illumination, which have low initial costs. But together with GE Japan, Mirai developed LED lights that generate light in wavelengths adapted to plant growth. While reducing electric power consumption by 40% compared to fluorescent lighting, the facility has succeeded in increasing harvest yields by 50%. This makes it possible to recover the initial cost of the LED lighting.
Kajima applied its experience in constructing facilities meeting the high-level hygiene management requirements of pharmaceuticals factories to plan and design a plant factory that could facilitate hygienic and highly efficient management. While applying its logistics engineering expertise, Kajima also provided a multilevel rack system, which brings higher quality production at lower cost than before. In addition, simulations of sophisticated cultivation environments tailored to plant transpiration and other processes led to the creation of an optimum environment for plant growth with air conditioning systems designed for just the right distribution of wind speed and air temperatures around the cultivation rack units.
Mirai will manage the indoor farm itself, with the produce being sold at supermarkets for anticipated annual sales of approximately JPY300 million. Amid concerns that increases in the worldwide population will lead to food shortages, the three companies involved in this project will leverage the performance of this facility as a foothold in efforts to help provide a stable supply of food through the more widespread use of indoor farming with artificial lighting.
Moving forward, plans call for more than merely exporting produce cultivated at Japanese indoor farms. The partners aim to export entire plant factories featuring the advanced agriculture developed through this test operation. Several inquiries have already been received both from within Japan and from overseas. In both Hong Kong and the Russian Far East, progress in the implementation of indoor farms is ongoing.
Construction period: September 2013 to March 2014
Floor space: approximately 2,300 m2
Cultivation racks: 6-15 levels x 18
LED lights: about 17,500