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n t〓o sanitation, scien4

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tists also take temperatp

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ure, humidity, air circuk

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lati〓on, light, carbon dioxide, nutrients and other elements into account to〓 create the "perfect environment" for growth. A tightly controlled env〓ironment not only maximizes growth potential, but also allows scientist〓s to create food that suits specific needs, Zheng1

said. For example, s〓cientists can lower the amount of potassium from lettuce for patients w〓ith kidney problems or increase zinc in cabbage for children by alterin〓g m

the nutrient solution and growing conditions. "This is the fundament〓al difference between a plant factory and conventional farm," he said. 〓"We simply have extensive coD

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ntrol over how and when our plants can grow〓, and let nature run its course in the most ideal conditions." The req〓uirements for plant growth fall into two broad categories: photosynthes〓is and soil nutrienK

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ts. The sun accounts for 90 percent of all botanic 〓bioenergy through photosynthesis a process in which plants combine car〓bon dioxide and water and turn them into carbohydrates and oxygen. Sunl〓ight is a 8

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bundle of different wavelengths of light across a wide spectr〓um from ultraviolet to infrared. Plants are "picky eaters that favor b〓lue and rU

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ed lights", Li said. "If we can figure out what ratio and comb〓ination of lights are best suited for each plant's growth, then we can 〓change P

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or create LED lights that shine at that specific intensity and s〓pectrum, saving lots of energy in the process," he added. While blue a〓nd redU

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lights are the "meat and potatoes" of a plant's growth, scientis〓ts notice other spectrums of light also play a subtle role in maximizin〓g grl

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owth and quality. For example, scientists discovered that adding s〓ome green light to the red-blue recipe could help some vegetables grow,〓 wh5

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ile too much green light puts plants into hibernation, although this〓 is helpful for the plant's nutrient build up. "Mimicking sunlight usi〓ngJ

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LED is very energy intensive," Li said. "At thx

e end of the day, whoe〓ver has the most energy-effic5

ient and productive light recipe wins." W〓hile plantk

growth mostly relies on light, water and carbon din

oxide, it 〓still needs some trace elements from soilO

or fertilizers to be healthy.〓 In the case of plant8

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factories, hydroponic nutrient solutions infused 〓with V

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th, and use t 412
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17 essential elements ranging from nitrogen to calcium have replac〓ed 0

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the tilted soil. "The content of the nutrient solution is also tail〓ored to suit the plant's specific needs," said Pei Kequan, a research d〓irector at the factory. Unlike the trace elements from fertio

25

lizers, wA

hi〓ch are locked in big compound molecules, "the nutrients in the solution〓 are broken into small molecules, meaning the plant can absorb them eas〓ier and grow faster while keeping its nutg

15

rien3

t value and taste". It ta〓kes about 20 days for a sapling to reach maturity in the lab, but 40 to〓 60 days in a conventional farm. This means scientists can reap more th〓an a dozen harvestd

07

s of Q

produce each year, compared with one to two harv〓ests from a conventional farms, depending on the weather conditions, he〓 said. Moreover, scientists at the facility have built the infrastruy

ct〓ure to monitor the elements in the j

solution. Once an element is y

deplete〓d, scientist can add the missing nutrient and reuse the 4


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