Agri-Cube: The Portable Mini-Vegetable Factory
The idea of locally grown greens often congers up ideas of backyard vegetable farms. However, as what we have found out in our modern time, it turns out that this idea can be a lot more systematic and advanced that we commonly think. In fact, the study of hydroponics and aeroponics may even be vital in significantly enhancing the entire world’s food production (as opposed to just being a local solution), to meet the exponentially growing needs and demands of our population.
Agri-cube is one of the latest incarnations made by the urban food growing idea. It is a new type of urban vegetable factory that not only localizes food production, but is also compact and portable enough to be brought and installed to any urban establishment and facility.
Agri-cube is basically considered as a compact hydroponic unit. It was designed by Daiwa House Industry, possibly as alternative way to be able to properly supply food to certain facilities that require it. For example, it can be installed at specific restaurants, so that instead of waiting for regular food supplies to be delivered, the restaurant itself could grow the ingredients that they need.
There are several technologies that make the Agri-cube unique from other regular hydroponic gardens. One example is the Variable Height Illumination System, which, as its name suggests, controls the amount of light automatically depending on the stage of cultivation. Another one is the Fertilizer Circulation and Drainage System, which makes maintenance of the hydroponic bays and cultivation racks a lot easier. The entire system of Agri-cube was in fact actually made so that even people with limited experience can grow vegetables in it properly.
Though the space inside the Agri-cube is just as wide as a standard room, it is actually capable of producing quite a significant amount of crops. Leaf lettuce for example, can be grown in the Agri-cube in 42 days, from sowing to harvesting. It has a tested crop yield of about 10,000 in a single year, so depending on where it is installed, the need to order supplies from large farms might be completely eliminated.
Powering the tiny facility is a bit of a challenge though, since it uses a lot of different powered systems to regulate everything that the crops need. The biggest energy-eating components are lighting and temperature control systems. It is still quite small in scale though, so a standard solar or wind energy system might be sufficient enough to power it independently. Along with other items needed for growing crops, the entire cost needed to run the Agri-cube is about US $4,500. Quite costly right? But when equated with the 10,000-head crop yield, vegetables grown in it would only cost about US $0.45 per head. As for the facility itself, the prices are US $70,000 and US $108,000 for two separate designs.
An interesting use of the Agri-cube would be in establishments that might critically require regular food supplies. Hotels for example, can independently grow their own vegetable supplies, and hospitals can have immediate access to fresh food anytime it is needed.
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