Japan is certainly a land of innovation, not just in consumer electronics but seemingly also in the world of hydroponics. The latest news from Japan shows a hydroponic vending machine, that grows plants without the need for sunlight. They have apparently been invented for usage in urban areas where growing fresh vegetables is deemed to be a problem.
Completely eliminating the need for sunlight is one of these vending machines’ greatest achievements. Instead, twelve 40W bulbs are used to replicate the light provided by the sun. The vending machine is labelled as the Chef’s Farm and it is supposed to produce approximately 20,000 heads of lettuce a year within 5 separate growing beds. These nutri-culture beds are placed in metal frames, with the lettuce seeds planted in sponge pots. The frames however do require manual movement during the set-up process. Each bed has separate environmental controls allowing users change the lighting, solution and temperature for each individual bed. The result is that across the five beds, different vegetables can be grown, although lettuce seems the most popular.
The vending machines are being targeted at restaurants and cost around $90,000, not cheap but it is expected that most restaurants will be able to recoup the costs of the investment in approximately five years. Whilst they have been in existence since the summer, the Chef’s Farm is unavailable here in the UK; however the machines do show just how suitable hydroponics can be for the modern age, either in the catering industry, or even in urban areas where a lack of fresh vegetables is apparent.