Originally published in Issue 13
By Eri Hayashi, Japan Plant Factory Association, Industry Expert
For anyone who believes plant factories (PFALs)/vertical farms are only for leafy greens or for anyone who has given up growing strawberries in plant factories, they may have to reconsider their way of thinking. There is a great future ahead for strawberries, especially after the Japan Plant Factory Association (JPFA) held its 96th monthly workshop on “Next-Generation Strawberry Growing System.”
The workshop gave participants the opportunity to learn what is happening in Japan’s commercial strawberry PFALs. Also during the workshop, academic researchers and research institutes provided updates on what they have been working on with state-of-the-art strawberry cultivation methods which further raised the excitement about the positive growth potential of strawberry PFALs.
JPFA has been organizing workshops every month together with companies and academics/research institutes since 2009. Every session deals with different subjects and allows for the exchange of views from various backgrounds. During each workshop more than 100 PFAL-conscious farmers, companies, researchers and individuals invigorate the discussions.
The most recent workshop sessions included:
• LED grow lights. Product features were presented by seven of Japan’s major LED grow light companies to learn about each product’s characteristics based on real data that had been released by the companies.
• The real issues related to workability, operational management, sales and distribution confronting commercial farm operators. The details of actual experiences were talked about by large scale commercial PFAL farms. One of the topics covered was how these farms have overcome operational issues and improved their profitability after having received support from Chiba University and JPFA, etc. Unique vegetable suppliers and distributors shared their expertise with the attendees.
• Current situations on leading Japanese greenhouse farms (CEA).
Much more than education
On July 13, 2016, JPFA will be celebrating its 100th event in Kashiwa-no-ha campus. Japan Plant Factory Association (JPFA) is a non-profit association devoted to academic and business advancements in the plant factory/vertical farm/CEA industry. More than 10 consortium R&D projects are conducted in PFALs and greenhouse facilities onsite. Along with the monthly workshops, JPFA also offers training courses and intensive business session courses every month for professional growers and potential industry entrants. Business matching, consulting service, research activities and any collaborations are always welcome.
For more: http://npoplantfactory.org/english.html