Shaping Smarter Cities: Urban Farming in Tokyo Japan

14 August 2017

With the next evolution of Mouser Electronics’ Empowering Innovative Together™ series, Mouser and Grant Imahara team up with the creative minds at WIRED Brand Lab to take a look at the modern city. Sponsored this year by our technology partners Analog Devices, Intel, Microchip a,nd Molex, we’re traveling the world to see and learn from the innovators and progressive companies creating a more livable future for our cities. We’re asking insightful questions: How can technology make our hectic lives better, and what solutions will it provide to the everyday problems today’s ever-growing cities face? Across the globe, there are many innovators hard at work already employing technology to create smarter cities that are more efficient, less polluted and more sustainable.

In the third episode of our 5-part video series, Grant heads to Tokyo, Japan to speak with engineers at a company called Mirai. Mirai is investigating how urban farming could enhance food production for ever growing populations in smart cities. Almost three-quarters of the landmass in Japan is mountainous. This leaves only a relatively small area for the entire population to live work and grow food. As the population increases, the strain on food production expands exponentially.

That is where Mirai comes in. They have converted a former Sony semiconductor factory into the world’s largest indoor farm. It ships out 10,000 heads of lettuce per day. By building these farms up instead of out Mirai has found one solution to the problem of space for farms in Japan.

Inside their indoor vertical farm, Mirai can control all the things that keep a farm awake with worry every night. In the controlled environment they have created rainfall can be precisely controlled, soil nutrients can be meticulously applied and damage from animals and insects ceases to be a concern. The yield per square meter is 50 to 100 times that of a normal farm.

The types of vertical farms that Mirai has created can be installed virtually anywhere they are needed. This means that the food miles (a measurement of the distance food has to travel from producer to consumer and the fuel required) for their products are greatly reduced.

The indoor nature of these farms also reduces water consumption. All drainage from the watering of crops is collected and recycled. Even the water lost to evaporation is trapped and then recycled.

These are just a few examples of how vertical farming will revolutionize the world of agriculture and enhance smart cities.

In the next episode Grant treks to Los Angeles, California to take a look at the future of city building.

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