Startup Searching for 'Next-Gen Agriculture Assisted by Solar Power' (2)

2019/12/03 10:54
Shinichi Kato, Nikkei BP Intelligence Group, CleanTech Labo
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Continued from Startup Searching for 'Next-Gen Agriculture Assisted by Solar Power' (1)

Garlic was selected as the crop (Fig. 6).

Fig. 6: Sunlight shining on garlic grown on-site (source: Chiba Ecological Energy)

There is a certain market scale for garlic and about 60% of garlic consumed in Japan is imported. It is significant to improve the domestic self-sufficiency rate by producing it in Japan. Crops grown at solar sharing-type plants are selected based on certain conditions.

They should not break the balance of products shipped from farmers in the nearby area, they should be easy to manage with the possibility to improve the productivity by use of machinery, and comparatively stable growth and harvesting should be ensured even if the sunlight is cut off for a certain period of time by solar panels.

Other crops are also planted in corners of the garlic field for verification (Fig. 7). Crops including buck wheat, Japanese angelica plants, sweet potatoes, taros and strawberries were planted on a trial basis in the past. Sweet potatoes, taros and strawberries are popular products in Chiba Prefecture. Taros grow well in shade.

Fig. 7: Other crops also grown on trial basis (source: Nikkei BP)

Peanuts are famous local products of Chiba Prefecture, but they are not suitable for growing in shade and are difficult to grow at solar sharing plants. For selection and cultivation of crops, the knowhow of the Faculty of Horticulture at Chiba University and other organizations is utilized, as well as advice of people related to agriculture.