The concept of plant factories is not a new one. Especially in space-strapped Japan, the idea of a compact garden that can simulate a natural environment in a tight urban area is highly desirable.

Keystone Technologies is one Japanese company that has been constantly refining their LED garden technology. Currently they boast a system that can fit about a quarter acre’s worth of crops into a space of a hotel’s single-room, and that’s just the beginning.

Different to other forms of hydroponics, the Yokohama-based company is making use of LED lights to nourish plants.

The obvious benefits of LED such as low power-consumption and space requirements are utilized. Also, using three separate wavelengths (red, green, and blue) they can fine-tune the light required by different types of vegetable at different stages in their development for maximum growth and nutrient production.

In an interview with DigInfo TV, a spokesperson for the company admitted that the texture is different from naturally grown vegetables. He says that in the case of lettuce it has a crispiness but isn’t as bristly as heads grown outdoors. It’s uncertain whether this is an improvement or not, and there is actually a good chance that you may have already eaten some of their LED produced produce if you live in Japan, so chances are it’s not such a big deal in reality.

Keystone has been selling this technology to the food industry in Japan since 2010. The financial benefits are especially attractive as their five-tiered system can produce the same amount of produce grown in 970m2 (10,441ft2) of outdoor land in an area of just 16m2 (172ft2). It all depends on the type of plant, but 1,500 smaller heads of lettuce could be grown in under a month. Pretty impressive.

Then you have the other benefits of indoor gardens such as the fact that there’s no need for pesticides, no risk of contamination from waste-born bacteria such as e-coli, no transportation requirements (it could be grown right where it’s processed or shipped from), and no dependency on an already dwindling agricultural work-force.

Now comes the bad news: These devices are sold mainly for businesses such as restaurants rather than households. Keystone does sell two types of LED for home use. One Tornado Ace LED bulb sells for 4,640 yen (US$45) with your choice of seven colors. A single red-green-blue LED bar similar to that used in their systems is also available for 84,000 yen ($820) each.

However, like any technology, its price may come down with time. From there it might not be too long until home gardens become a fixture in every kitchen around Japan.

Source: Keystone Technology via DigInfo TV (Japanese/English)
Video: YouTube – DigInfo TV

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