Panasonic, Fujitsu and other Japanese technology firms, looking for ways to offset decreased demand for their consumer electronics, are producing automated greenhouses and sensor-controlled fields to help farmers in Japan maintain constant conditions for their crops, according to Reuters.
Heat and erratic weather in recent years has made it difficult for farmers in Japan to grow summer vegetables, which has caused year-over-year price increases.
Domestic demand for farming systems using information technology and the cloud is expected to increase ninefold to 60 billion yen ($586 million) by 2020, according to market research firm Seed Planning, as farmers worry about the impact of climate change on their crops.
Currently greenhouses cover 11 percent of the land used to cultivate vegetables in Japan, but account for 15 percent of total output, or 165 billion yen ($1.6 billion). Farmers who use greenhouses can have double the revenue of those who use open fields as they consistently produce high-quality vegetables.
Panasonic has developed a passive low-energy greenhouse that uses sensor-activated fans, sprinklers and curtains instead of air conditioning to keep heat and humidity constant year-round. The greenhouses cost 55 million yen ($540,000) for a set of 10, and Panasonic says the cost can be recouped within seven years. It hopes to sell 1,000 of its greenhouses by March 2017.
Fujitsu offers solar-powered posts equipped with thermometers, humidity sensors and cameras for farmers’ fields. In addition, its Akisai cloud-based farming system allows users to tend vegetables from a remote location by using a tablet to operate sprinklers, fans and heaters in response to changes in heat and moisture tracked by sensors.
In addition, a report by Environmental Business International earlier this year noted that the effects of climate change would create business opportunities for companies.
Photo Credit: Japanese greenhouse via Shutterstock