The number of industrial plants must increase in order for the market to become accustomed to the products grown in the plant factories
Approximately 10,000 years ago, mankind started farming on Anatolian lands for the first time. As the years passed, agricultural systems have also changed and developed. Manpower evolved into the plough, and the plough into the tractor. Many technological applications began to be used in agriculture. However, the negative effects of the past years were also very high. Looking at today, we stand in front of a grave picture. Our arable lands are both getting smaller and losing their quality due to climate changes, increasing temperature values, thirst, barrenness, pollution and chemical use in our world. In addition, global population growth and urbanization negatively affect arable land. Different and innovative solutions are necessary in order to feed people and offer them quality food. The solution of today in developing agricultural technology is greenhouses. However, our greenhouses occupy very large agricultural areas and cannot allow continuous production. New production systems are now required for sustainable agriculture. Systems in which human impact is reduced, allowing continuous and high-efficiency farming anywhere and anytime…
AGRICULTURE OF THE FUTURE: PLANT FACTORIES
Plant factories are facilities where products are grown with LED lighting and plant nutrition technology inside completely indoor and climate-controlled areas. Therefore, products that can be grown independently of external conditions can be harvested uninterruptedly and in a healthy way for 365 days. In other words, if you own a plant factory, you can continuously produce in very small areas and obtain standard quality products. By performing production in a plant factory of 1,000 m2, you can obtain products of the same quantity you would otherwise have in a greenhouse of 10,000 m2. Allowing you to leave the remaining 9,000 m2 to nature. In addition, you are not affected by all the negative effects of nature. Since you are performing production in a completely closed, air-conditioned and sterile environment, the weather outside does not concern you. And because you do not have to fight threats such as bacteria and insects, you do not need to use pesticides and harmful chemicals.
PRODUCTION ALONGSIDE CONSUMPTION THROUGH PLANT FACTORIES
Through plant factories, you can produce the same products both in Kenya, England and even in the poles, and you can grow products of the same standard. Therefore, production exists where there is consumption. Achieving reasonable amounts of investment and operating costs is very important for sustainability in agriculture. The cost of transporting cold chain food from one country or city to another is very high. For this reason, on-site production comes with many advantages. In this way, you have a healthy, economical, environmentally friendly production model.
RETURN ON INVESTMENT IN PLANT FACTORIES
A plant factory is a closed facility whose input is the seeds, water, and plant nutrition, and output is packaged and ready-to-market food. In order to determine the establishment costs, first of all, many different parameters such as the products to be grown, the size of the cultivation area, the production capacity, the automation to be applied, the remote management, the packaging to be made, the geography where the factory will be located must be correctly analyzed and determined. The true costs can be revealed through the detailed project studies to be carried out afterwards. The return on investment in plant factories with a turnkey m2 cost ranging from EUR 500 to 2000 is around 3 to 4 years in developed countries. The main determinants here are the energy cost and selling prices of the product in the market.
PLANT FACTORIES AROUND THE WORLD
The concept of plant factories is still very new around the world. Japan is the most experienced and knowledgeable country in this regard. In this country, both the market prices of products are high (i.e. a lettuce may find buyers for 5 euros) and the public is very sensitive about healthy food. Apart from that, the USA and Canada are strong countries in the field of plant factories. European countries are also making significant investments in this area, but they do not have large-scale industrial plant factories yet. The Farmoniva plant factory at Cantek’s own facilities is one of the largest functioning factories in Europe.
In addition, experimental studies are conducted all over the world. We can mention thousands of large and small test facilities working with different systems. However, the number of industrial plants must increase in order for the market to become accustomed to the products grown in the plant factories. A trend in this direction has started around the world. Especially large capital groups are very enthusiastic about investing in industrial agriculture, which appears to be quite risk-free and profitable. In Turkey, it is a challenging issue to invest in aplant factory. Because all plants can be grown easily in the country and their costs are cheap. However, the products that come out of the plant factories are healthy products that are pesticide- free, grow with 95 per cent less water, have a minimum carbon footprint, and have 0 per cent pesticides. Moreover, they are produced every day at the same quality and at the same cost. Under these conditions, we will all consume much more plant products when the market accepts their costliness compared to the greenhouse products.