Is it coincidence that the name of an enormous factory lettuce farm in Japan is located in the Miyagi Prefecture?
Miyagi was the name of the teacher in “The Karate Kid”, the man who taught balance, patience, perseverance, initiative, ingenuity, hard work, and compassion. The head of this indoor farm—the largest of its kind—is plant physiologist Shigeh Shimamura.
He has put his knowledge and experience of plant biology and environmental technology to practical application by transforming an old Sony semiconductor factory into one that can grow ten thousand heads of lettuce a day.
Partnering with General Electric (GE) and using its proprietary LED (light-emitting diode) lamps and proper environmental factors, Shimamura has achieved the ability to minimize waste and electricity, maximize water usage, and produce lettuce of high quality. His ambitious and altruistic aim: to reduce—or even eliminate—world food shortages.
From Semiconductor Factory to Lettuce Farm
The factory is 25,000 square feet, almost half the size of a football field.
Being indoors, the plants can be stacked on huge shelves (fifteen high!) with 17,500 lights and ventilation between, making the most use of the space. Plants are also protected from hazardous natural conditions like storms, pests, and drought.
The volume of plants wasted compared to a conventional outdoor farm is just ten percent versus up to fifty percent.
With the same amount of area, the factory realizes a one-hundred-fold increase in productivity per square foot and does so in less than half the time of an outdoor farm.