© Fraunhofer UMSICHT

From left to right: Prof. Na Lu (Chiba University), Prof. T. Kozai (JPFA), Volkmar Keuter (Fraunhofer UMSICHT), Prof. M. Takagaki (Chiba University).


© Fraunhofer UMSICHT

Plant factory (test facility) on site of Chiba University.

The proportion of the urban population is growing steadily and thus the challenge of a sustainable food supply. In future, German and Japanese researchers want to cooperate more closely in the development of new technologies for urban horticulture.

In March, Volkmar Keuter, head of the department »Photonics and Environment« at Fraunhofer UMSICHT and project manager inFarming®, visited the Center for Environment, Health and Field Sciences at Chiba University in Japan. Keuter visited the team led by Prof. T. Kozai, Japan Plant Factory Association (JPFA), and Prof. M. Takagaki, Director of Center for Environment, Health and Field Sciences, Chiba University. In addition to the technical and scientific exchange and the visit of the production and research facilities, the focus was on future cooperation between Japanese experts and German researchers. “In the fields of nutrient recycling and sensor technology in particular, we would like to cooperate more closely in the future,” said Keuter.

Together with JFPA, Chiba University is one of the technological pioneers of plant factories. Light, humidity, carbon dioxide and temperature are controlled in these closed cultivation systems. Independence from external conditions means that plant products of consistent quality can be produced all year round. The number of plant factories is constantly increasing – worldwide. Keuter: “We see great potential in this type of supply with agricultural products.”

Center for Environment, Health and Field Sciences, Chiba University

The aim of the center is to promote basic and applied research in the fields of environment, health, urban horticulture and field sciences. Interdisciplinary and international cooperation in research, education and related areas plays an important role.

Japan Plant Factory Association (JFPA)

The JPFA is a non-profit organization founded in 2010 by faculties of Chiba University and involved in the Plant Factory project funded by the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. JFPA’s goal is to provide workable solutions to current food, environmental, energy and resource-related problems by developing and disseminating sustainable facilities.

Fraunhofer UMSICHT

Fraunhofer UMSICHT is one of the pioneers in Germany for building-integrated food production. At an early stage, the research institute laid the foundations for the development of systems that enable the flexible use of material and energy flows in metropolitan regions. Under the inFARMING® umbrella brand, Fraunhofer UMSICHT is driving the integration of agriculture into cities and metropolises. To this end, researchers are developing materials, vertical cultivation methods, special exposure strategies and recirculation processes for nutrients, water and energy. In addition, there are feasibility and implementation studies as well as acceptance and participation studies.