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agri-cube compact hydroponic unit produces 10,000 vegetables per year in the space of a single car park
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agri-cube compact hydroponic unit produces 10,000 vegetables per year in the space of a single car park

agri-cube is a hydroponic unit developed by Daiwa House Industry.

agri-cube utilizes unique technologies, including the Variable Height Illumination System, which can provide a specific amount of light for cultivation, and the Fertilizer Circulation and Drainage System, which makes cleaning cultivation racks easy. Air-conditioning and other equipment is also provided as a package. So, even people with limited experience in vegetable cultivation can use the agri-cube easily.

"When we investigated how many kinds of vegetables could be grown at the same time, using the same environmental control technology and the same liquid fertilizer, we found 23 kinds. With this system, you can easily grow leaf lettuce, salad greens, and other leafy vegetables. Root vegetables up to a certain size can also be grown, for example, radishes and small turnips."

Leaf lettuce can be grown in 42 days from sowing seeds to harvesting. The yield is about 30 head a day, or 10,000 a year.

"We design a lot of suburban restaurants. If a restaurant has a parking lot with a space that's hard to use, that single parking space can be used to grow vegetables for the restaurant. Also, because agri-cube has windows, customers can see for themselves that vegetables are being grown safely, without using chemicals."

Agri-cube could also be used by hospitals, hotels, convenience stores, and research labs. Rooftop solar panels and air curtains can also be installed as options.

"Because agri-cube uses fluorescent lighting instead of sunlight for cultivation, the biggest expense is electricity. Temperature control is also needed, and that makes the electric bill a bit higher. Adding in seeds and fertilizer, agri-cube costs about 350,000 yen (~US$4,500) a year to run. It can grow 10,000 head of vegetables, so the running cost is about 35 yen (~US$0.45) per vegetable. This is a figure from actual cultivation, and not just an estimate."

agri-cube is available in two designs, priced at 5,500,000 yen (~US$70,000) and 8,500,000 yen (~US$108,000), and sales to commercial customers began in April this year.

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