Fairy Angel Inc, a venture company specialized in vegetable farming, disclosed part of its new plant factory when it had an opening ceremony commemorating the factory's completion Aug 29, 2008.
The plant factory, "Angel Farm Fukui," is located in Mihama-cho, Fukui Prefecture, Japan.
It is a "completely-controlled" factory, in which the temperature, humidity, light illumination level and nutrients are monitored and controlled inside a clean room isolated from the external area. Its operations began in July 2008. The current operating rate is "approximately 30%, but it will be in full operation in December 2008," said Kenji Emoto, CEO of Fairy Angel.
Fairy Angel has two other completely-controlled plant factories, one in Kyoto and the other in Noda, Chiba Prefecture, and they are already in operation. Thus, Angel Farm Fukui is the company's third plant factory.
The new factory has a land area of 13,229m2 and 3,748m2 of floor space. The total construction cost is roughly ¥1.5 billion (approx US$13.8 million), including the land acquisition cost. The factory is one of the largest completely-controlled plant factories in the world, producing three million plants per year under full operation, Emoto said.
The clean room of the new factory was constructed by Hitachi Plant Technologies Ltd. Its clean degree, which is classified as 100,000, is ten times that of general food factories, according to Fairy Angel.
In respect to air conditioning, the temperature is controlled to +25°C in the daytime (16 hours) and +18°C in the nighttime (eight hours). Fluorescent lamps are used as light sources and light intensity and irradiation time are controlled depending on the vegetables to be grown.
Fairy Angel has been developing a lighting system composed of solar cells and LEDs jointly with Mitsubishi Chemical Corp and lighting device manufacturer CCS Inc, targeting plant factories. They will start a joint experiment of a lighting system at Angel Farm Fukui at the end of October 2008.
Eight kinds of vegetables, including green leaf, sanchu and frillice, will be grown in the factory. The period from seeding to shipment will be 35 to 50 days, depending on the vegetable. For each kind of vegetable, the growing period can be reduced by nearly half, compared with outdoor farming, according to Fairy Angel.