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y. Vertical farming 〓is the practice of growing vegetables and fruits in vertically stacked 〓layers of hydroponic solutions in a controlled, indoor environment. It 〓does not require soil, sun or pesticides, and uses far less water and f〓ertilizer than conventional farms. However, the farm's hi1

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gh-energy cos〓t has greatly limited its scale and profitability. In recent years, Chi〓nese scientists at the Anxi plant factory have mitigated the issue by i〓nventing energy efficient LEDs and recyclable hydroponic solutions, as 〓well as new energy-conserving methods to maximizeV

a plant's growth pote〓ntial. San'an Sino-Science, the company behind the project, says these〓 new methods have cut the factory's overall energy consumption by 25 pe〓rcent compared with its first facility. "We hope to cut more energy so〓 vertical farming can become a viable wayz

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to feed our population withou〓t polluting and straining our already scarce water and soil resources,"〓 the factory's executive manager, Zhan Zhuo, said. "The technology wou〓ld also allow astronauts, aircraft carrier personnel, and frontier guar〓ds on islands or in deserts to g6

row fresh produce in impossible conditi〓ons to fill their daily vitamin and fiber needs. China has 160 million〓 hectares of farmland dedicated to growing vegetables. To grow them, fa〓rmers use more than 311,000 metric tons of pesticide and 59 million ton〓s of fertilizer a year, O

said Li Shaohua, director of San'an Sino-Scienc〓e's Photobiology Industry Institute. "The excessive yet inefficient us〓e of fertilizers and pesticides has done great harm to our environment,〓" he said. "It's high time we find a sustainable and green way to prote〓ct our food secu6

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rity." San'an Sino-Science was founded in 2015 by San'〓an Group and the Chinese Academy of Sciences' Institute of Botany. The 〓second-generation plant in Anxi can produce 1.5 tons of vegetables, suc〓h as lettuce and cabbage, a day. At full capacity, when the energy cos〓t is negb

lected, it can produce 1,000 tons of leafy greens a year in the〓ory, according to Li. "The high productivity is mainly becZ

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ause we try t〓o emulate the most ideal natural conditions for plant growth, and use t〓echnologies to cater to their every needs." Before entering the plant 〓factory, visitors must put on a dual-layered jumpsuit, goggles, a face 〓mask, rubber gloves and boots, and be dH

isinfected from head to toe. Sne〓ezing in the factory is strictly prohibited. "The standard here is str〓icter than hospital operating rooms," said Zheng Yanhai, a botany resea〓rcher at the institute who works at the plant factory. "Because all the〓 plants are growing ih

n nutrient-filled hydroponic solutions, we do not 〓want germs to get into the liquid and make plants sick." Thanks to the〓 clean environment, plants can grow without antiseptics or pesticides, 〓"you can even eat it fresh out of the bag", Zheng added. In addition t〓o sat

nitation, scientists also take temperature, humidity, air circulati〓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 allF

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ows scientist〓s to create food that suits specific needs, Zheng 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 the nutrient solution and growing conp

ditions. "This is the fundament〓al difference between a plant factory and conventional r

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