Sun, Jan 28, 2018 - Page 9 News List

Taiwan ‘plant factory’ may be answer to post-Brexit veg price pressure
英國脫歐蔬菜價揚 台植物工廠或成解藥

By applying advanced technology to farming, such as the use of LED light, leafy crops like lettuce can grow in plant factories at YesHealth iFarm year round.
將LED人工光源這類先進科技運用在農業上,像福山萵苣這種葉菜類作物就能終年在源鮮智慧農場的植物工廠中生長。

照片:中央社
Photo: CNA

Consumers in the UK have been concerned that after they leave the EU, they could face increased prices in leafy crops that the country depends heavily on other EU members for. They may find a remedy from a plant factory in Taiwan.

Resembling a space station, YesHealth iFarm is a 10-meter, 14-layer vertical farming facility that supports a daily production of 1.6 tonnes of vegetables, making it the largest “plant factory” in Taiwan. It also boasts an area of 240 square meters, and a production yield that is 100 times higher than traditional agriculture.

The idea comes from so-called “plant factories,” which have received growing attention worldwide. They are basically indoor environments using LED lights to grow vegetables year round. The factories use advanced technology to build an artificial system that meets the basic need of plants, such as sunlight, air, water and nutrition. They allow vegetables to grow to maturity in the best environment, no longer affected by the vagaries of nature and man-made pollution. Less labor is needed to tend to the crops compared with traditional farms.

According to the UK’s Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA), foreign grown vegetables contributed to 46 percent of the UK’s total supply in 2016. During that year, vegetable imports reached 6,500 tonnes per day, mainly tomatoes, lettuce and cauliflower, from Spain and the Netherlands. This is why British consumers might feel the heat in the post-Brexit era.

Vertical farming might be the solution, as YesHealth will start running an experimental factory in April in the National Agri-Food Innovation Campus (NAFIC) in York, northern England to tap into that market. YesHealth also wants to sell vegetables in Taiwan, where the amount of land used for growing food has decreased in recent years and the average age of farmers has increased, leading to a shortage of people to work the land.

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今日單字

1. vertical adj.


One obstacle is that vegetables in plant factories are grown in water solvent instead of soil, which makes them more prone to disease. A convenient solution is to use more fertilizers, but that way the vegetables not only become less fertile but also contain a higher level of nitrate, a major health concern.

At least one local government, Taoyuan, is willing to give this way of growing vegetables a try. It will include YesHealth’s factory into Taoyuan’s tourist bus route around March. As the plant factories become part of the tourism resources and walk into people’s lives, they may naturally become a part of the market.

(CNA)

一直以來,英國的葉菜類作物極度仰賴其他歐盟國家進口,然而在脫離歐盟後可能面臨的蔬菜價格上揚,讓英國消費者相當擔憂。對於這個現象,台灣的一家植物工廠或許能夠提供一方解藥。

彷彿像一座太空站的源鮮智慧農場,具備高達十公尺,垂直向上延伸共十四層的植物栽培空間,每天能夠提供一點六公噸的蔬菜產量,是台灣首屈一指的最大型「植物工廠」。智慧農場占地僅約兩百四十平方公尺,卻能夠提供超過同面積傳統農業百倍的產能。

智慧農場的設計概念來自於近年愈獲世界各地關注的「植物工廠」。這類植物工廠基本上是全年使用LED燈照種植作物的室內環境,並使用先進的科技,在其中打造整個系統,以人工方式提供諸如日光、空氣、水、養分等植物生長所需的基本要素。這樣的環境讓植物能夠在最良好的環境中成長到得以收成,不會受難以預測的自然災害或人為汙染所影響。跟傳統的農場相比,植物工廠所需照料植物的人力也較少。

根據英國環境、食物及鄉村事務部發布的報告指出,光是二○一六年,外國種植的蔬菜就佔英國蔬菜總提供量的百分之四十六。在同一年,每日進口的蔬菜達到六千五百公噸,主要品項為番茄、萵苣,以及花椰菜,大多數從西班牙及荷蘭進口。這樣嚴重的進口依賴情況,很可能讓英國的消費者在脫歐後更為擔憂。

垂直向上的蔬菜種植方式也許能夠為此難題提供解方:從今年四月開始,台灣的源鮮農業預計將在英國北部約克的國家農業食品創新園區展開實驗性的植物工廠營運,藉此試探英國市場的接受度。源鮮農業同時也希望能夠在台灣本地銷售蔬果,特別是因為近年來台灣的農業用耕地面積不斷縮水,務農人口的平均年齡卻不斷上升,導致耕作人力短缺。

植物工場所面對的挑戰之一,來自於作物都是用加入液態肥的水耕方式種植,有別於傳統農業的土耕方式,因此也讓蔬菜更容易患病。使用更多的化學肥料,是方便有效的解決辦法之一,只是這樣一來,作物不但會減少產量,也容易含有大量的硝酸鹽,是影響食用者健康的一大顧慮。

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