New plant production systems with a low environmental impact (or a high resource utilization efficiency) are necessary for urban agriculture development. A recent study explores the benefits of closed plant production systems (CPPSs) with artificial lighting using a commercial CPPS at Osaka Prefecture University.
Lettuce plants were produced continuously as a model for analyzing resource consumption rates, such as electricity, labor, water, and CO2, over two years. Monthly consumption rates of electricity, labor, water, and CO2 increased with the increase in the monthly production rate of the lettuce.
The utilization efficiencies (= output/input) of electricity, energy, water, and CO2 were 1.0%, 1.0%, 4.0%, and 32.6%, respectively. If the commercial CPPS maintains the monthly production rate at a higher level, the energy utilization efficiency will increase. The number of air exchanges in a commercial CPPS should decrease to increase water and CO2 utilization efficiencies.
Reusing water drained from the air conditioning system and employing a closed loop in the nutrient supply system also contribute to increasing the water utilization efficiency and lowering the environmental impact. Although a commercial CPPS still requires further improvements, it may be a good crop production system for urban agriculture provided resource utilization efficiencies improve.