Smart Indoor Farm Factories
Technology driven advancements have seen agricultural productivity increase by about 260% over the last 20 years. For instance, precision farming technology that uses GPS and GIS technology allows farmers to pinpoint weak soil conditions thereby applying the optimum quantity of fertilizer and pesticides to improve production. Even with such advances the challenge of feeding 9 billion mouths in 2050 with receding natural resources and climatic changes is still a mammoth challenge.
Companies such as Panasonic have invested in urban farming through its Factory Solutions operations in Singapore. Panasonic’s foray into this arena has seen its cultivation area increase from 77m2 to 634m2 resulting in production capacity increasing from 3.6 tons to 81 tons year-on-year. Not only that, the use of automated seeding and potting systems has drastically improved productivity. The company is set to invest further to achieve a production capacity of 1000 tons. Internationally, technology companies such as Sharp are exploring the production of strawberries in desert environments like Dubai; Sony, Toshiba and Fujitsu are involved in growing lettuce across Japan in half the time compared to traditional ways of production and by using special LED lighting that optimises photosynthesis and hydroponics (use of mineral-enriched water) technologies.
In 2014, it was estimated that technological innovations could enhance the agrifood value c
hain activity by about $570m. But, more needs to be done. One-off efforts or household efforts of indoor farming are unlikely to support natural resource constrained city-States such as Singapore support its ability to become partly self-sufficient. Firms, with the enabling support from government, must take the lead and create a viable, scalable technology-driven indoor farming sector. SMEs play an important role here. But, where do we start?
- Murdoch University’s Second Murdoch Commission on Food Security, Trade and Partnerships
- Murdoch University’s bespoke Graduate Certificate in Business (Food Security and Sustainable Development) delivered in Australia and the region in partnership with Asia BioBusiness
- Azad Singh BALI
- Associate Professor Christopher VAS
- Associate Professor Peter WARING
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