Plant Factory – An Apt Answer to Address Food Security Issue!
A Plant Factory is a closed farming system in which plants are grown throughout the year by controlling the parameters of light, temperature, humidity, and carbon dioxide concentrations. Thus, Plant Factory ensures higher food production vis-a-vis efforts required and it makes production possible even in areas where it is difficult or not possible. The important factors that play a key role in the success of a plant factory are Crop selection, Lighting selection, and design.
Airflow design and environmental control, Plant planting density setting, Crop logistics and automation, Irrigation and nutrients, Data, sensors, controls and software systems.
The benefits associated with plant factory are Continuous and fixed cost supply, shorter harvesting time, pesticide-free, 100 times more yield in comparison to land farming, It can be built in shaded / unused areas, Low carbon footprint in view of fewer transportation needs, Fresh and safe food can be made available in urban areas at all times, Work opportunities are created which can be fulfilled by even elderly persons as minimum efforts are required, Recycling of water, It can be combined with other mixed agriculture techniques to maximize the use of resources.
The following are challenges associated with Plant Factories: Designing and constructing an innovative building structure with facilities, Data mining using big data, Developing an optimal environmental control system using minimum resources, Introducing molecular biology for breeding, and solving physiological disorders of plants such as tip burn, Flexible automation of handling plants and supplies, Creating new markets for plant factory grown plants, Improving concentration and composition of functional components by environmental control, Breeding of dwarf plants suited to plant factory, Development of phenotyping units, Integration of plant factory into ecological urban planning and management, Development of Micro – mini and small PFALs for education, self-learning and as a hobby.