Chris Fung, Wiley’s Technical Service Director is currently in Singapore attending Indoor Ag Con Asia, gaining a stronger understanding of the indoor agriculture industry landscape and connecting with leaders and specialists in the field. Chris shares his first day’s learnings with us:
Professor Kozai from Emeritus Chiba University in Japan addressed Plant Factories with Artificial Lighting (PFAL) technology with amazing insight. Noting his most satisfying work experiences were developing computer control for PFALs in the 1970s and with a smile that no-one was interested way back then.
Key takeaways from Professor Kozai’s presentation:
- Cost and economic value are a fundamental challenge facing the industry. Energy, capital and labor costs contribute majority of input charges.
- There were 185 PFALs functioning in Japan at the end of 2015 compared with just 34 in 2009. Of these 185, 30% are profitable, 50% breakeven and 20% are losing money. Expansion is occurring at approx 10-15% per annum.
- Automation is a key management input for the successful operation of future PFALs.
- A simple solution for establishing large sized commercial installations is needed.
Why? Small and pilot facilities are able to readily control their environment (humidity, temperature, lighting etc) however as the facilities increase in size, the complexities with maintaining a stable environment becomes more complex, introducing significant costs.
- Urgent need for industry to come together and combine collective data, analysis and R&D efforts to leverage learnings quicker.
- The scope of R&D is limited to date, with a fairly narrow focus on key issues. Innovation is eagerly sought on a global scale.
Dr Wei Fang from the National Taiwan University worked through the quantitative analysis and financial performance for PFALs. He explained the rates of research and development and maturity between Japan Vs Taiwan (industry leaders) and how he scientifically ascertains and models economic valuation (inputs/key criteria/pitfalls) of these facilities
Dr Fang also expressed plant growth as a direct consequence of lighting and energy inputs. Essentially, for a certain amount of Energy (kW or $$$) you can anticipate your expected plant yield (kg).
Wiley attends events like Indoor Ag Con Asia as we aim to bring food and people together in a better way. This allows us to lead and collaborate with our network discussing the latest knowledge and technology to help everyone innovate, improve performance and aid in ensuring the future of global food security.
Stay tuned for updates from the rest of today’s sessions and tomorrow’s installment.
Connect with Wiley’s Chris Fung, Brendan Kerr and CK Choo who are in attendance on LinkedIn for industry news.
We are also tweeting live at @WileyTalk