Photobiotechnology Opens The Door To Future Agriculture

- Jul 05, 2019-

Recently, in some large supermarkets and hotels in Xiamen City, Fujian Province, a kind of special vegetables with green safety and very good taste began to appear, and they are very popular among the public. This vegetable is special because it grows in plant factories that do not require sunlight and soil and is not affected by the environment and pollution.



At the end of November, the reporter visited the world's largest plant factory in Hutou Photoelectric Park, Anxi County, Fujian Province. The rows of shelves were neatly grown with green vegetables, including lettuce, cabbage, crystal ice, etc. Under the illuminating light, the spirit is full of energy, and it is very refreshing to pick a leaf and taste it.


In recent years, Fujian Provincial Science and Technology Co., Ltd. (hereinafter referred to as Zhongke Sanan), jointly established by the Institute of Botany of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (hereinafter referred to as the Institute of Plants) and Fujian Sanan Group, has adopted the technology and philosophy of photobiology. Technology development and industrial application of plant factories. On November 28th, the expert workstation of the academician of Fujian Branch of Fujian Branch was jointly established. In the same period, the 24th Guling Science Conference was held under the theme of “Photobiotechnology Application and Plant Factory Industrialization” hosted by the Fujian Provincial Department of Science and Technology and under the supervision of Zhongke Sanan.


"The establishment of an academician expert workstation is very suitable and very important. It has truly achieved a strong alliance. The solid foundation of photobiology research and the collision of the strong optoelectronic technology of Zhongke Sanan to create a strategic emerging industry will be built in the future. There will be strong competitiveness outside." Yan Tingyun, a member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and a researcher at the Institute of Botany, said in an interview with the reporter of the Chinese Journal of Science.


Strong and strong joint exploration of billions of industries


With the increase of environmental pollution and the shortage of water resources and land resources, agricultural production is facing increasing pressure. Scientists are beginning to explore a new and disruptive production model – a fully intelligent plant factory.


“Plant factory is a new form of industry combining optoelectronic industry and biological industry. It is not subject to the natural environment and has an all-weather and efficient production method. It can greatly improve land utilization and reduce labor costs, and represents the future development direction of agriculture.” It is said that only a few developed countries such as the United States, Japan and Europe have mastered this technology and formed a mature industry. According to relevant industry forecasts, by 2020, the global output value of LED light sources for plant growth will reach tens of billions of dollars, and plant production value can reach hundreds of billions of dollars.


Fujian Sanan Group also saw the broad prospects for the future development of plant factories. As the cost is greatly reduced, the illumination penetration rate is gradually increased, and the LED becomes a new generation of green illumination source with high efficiency and energy saving. By 2020, the overall output value of the semiconductor lighting industry will reach a trillion yuan scale, LED research and development and application will reach an unprecedented golden period. The development of the LED lighting industry is also in line with the needs of the industrialization of plant factories and the outbreak period of blowouts.


In order to cross the border from the optoelectronic industry to the "photo-bio" industry, how to make a new spark in the two fields, how to use their own advantages to make the industry bigger and stronger, Fujian Sanan Group realized that it needs the support of science and technology, so they are active Seek help from plants. In 2015, the two sides jointly initiated the establishment of Zhongke Sanan, and jointly carried out related work on plant factories, with a view to jointly promoting the rapid development of the photobio industry.


"The cooperation between the two sides can give full play to their respective strengths in the field of botany and optoelectronic technology, and truly realize the complementary advantages." Zhan Zhuo, general manager of Zhongke Sanan, said in an interview with the journal China Journal.


Collaborative innovation born the largest plant factory


Yan Tingyun said that although the plant factory in China started late, the development speed is very fast. The scientific research and industry have carried out a series of research in related fields in recent years, and have made great breakthroughs and actual results.


Under the joint efforts of the Institute of Plants and Fujian Sanan Group, the industrial base completed an investment of over 1.1 billion yuan in the first year and built a standardized plant of 60,000 square meters, becoming the world's largest plant factory. The first 10,000 square meter plant factory was successfully put into operation in June 2016. It passed the ISO22000 certification of food safety management system and ISO9001 certification of quality management system. Nissan produces 1.8 tons of green, non-polluting and high-quality vegetables, which has become domestic commercial artificial light. An outstanding representative of a plant factory.


In order to promote the organic combination and synergy development of production, education and research more effectively, the “Plant Factory R&D Center” and the Technical Steering Committee came into being, and Academician Yan Tingyun and Academician Fang Jingyun served as the director of the Technical Steering Committee. The plant has selected nearly 20 doctors to be stationed in Fujian Sanan Group for technical research and development and provide technical support.


After the efforts of both parties, the Zhongke Sanan Plant Factory Project was included in the “13th Five-Year Plan” of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and was supported by the STS project of the Science and Technology Bureau of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. At the same time, the plant factory project was also included in the key support of Fujian Province. One of the projects.


In order to promote the closer integration of scientific research and the physical industry, the two sides have jointly established the “Plant Factory Research Institute”. The plant recommended Li Shaohua as a dean, and more than a dozen well-known scientists at home and abroad as research consultants. The institute establishes research directions for plant lighting, bio-pharmaceuticals, equipment research, resource development, testing and testing, and organically combines light biology, horticulture, nutrition, botany, and phytochemistry.


Li Shaohua revealed to the reporter of the Chinese Journal of Science and Technology that the institute will take advantage of the company's own advantages in technology, capital and talents, and take the lead in building demonstration bases above the scale in major domestic large-scale cities to provide consumers with green pollution-free and high-quality products. Vegetables, fruits and health foods, and establish demonstration bases in hot spots abroad to promote system equipment and related technologies with independent intellectual property rights in China.


“With its advantages in production capacity and food safety, plant factories will become more competitive and more beneficial to the people than traditional field cultivation,” said Li Shaohua.


Soft and hard combination to create healthy ingredients


“The plant factory needs to have both software and hardware. The software is to first consider what kind of plants to cultivate, such as vegetables, fruits, flowers, etc. The hardware is to have high technology, each plant needs to know the specific light formula, Nutritional combination, etc., intelligently adjust the environment according to the needs of plants, and 'reform' through high-tech such as synthetic biology and genetic engineering, so that plants can meet our requirements for quality," said Yan Tingyun.


In fact, the plant factory has carried out a scientific “light formula” for each plant. “Light Formulation” is a long-term complexity study based on the illumination required by different plant species at different developmental stages. It is the focus of development. “Light formula” means faster growth, higher yield and more. Excellent quality." Li Shaohua introduced.


The plant factory uses energy-saving LED plant growth lamps as the light source, and uses the refrigeration-heating two-way temperature control and humidity control, light-carbon dioxide coupling photosynthetic and gas fertilizer regulation, nutrient solution online detection and control, and other related control subsystems. The plant's temperature, humidity, light, airflow, carbon dioxide concentration and nutrient solution are automatically monitored to achieve intelligent management.


After innovative research and development and scientific research, Zhongke Sanan research team has achieved many technological breakthroughs in more than two years, including the development of plant light formula and the development of plant lighting products, the development of efficient and balanced plant nutrient solution and its recycling. The innovation of the way, the selection of vegetable varieties and the optimization of their cultivation methods, the development of intelligent cultivation facilities, and so on.


At present, the vegetable products of Zhongke Sanan Plant Factory have been listed in more than 100 large-scale commercial supermarkets, star-rated hotels and high-end restaurants in Xiamen, Fuzhou and Quanzhou, and have been highly praised by consumers.


“They just need to use our products, they are inseparable, because this production method has many characteristics that traditional agriculture does not have. For example, there is no seasonal change, quality change, price change, no longer relying on the sky to eat. 'It is exactly what the business economy needs.” Zhan Zhuo said that they are still improving the quality of vegetables and further optimizing the taste and flavor.


In September of this year, the products of Zhongke Sanan Plant Factory were designated as the designated products for the BRICS leaders' meeting, and they were placed on the national banquet table, which was favored by guests from all over the world. This enabled researchers to increase the motivation for research and development.


In addition to eating incense in China, Zhongke Sanan plant factory and supporting technology have also left the country. The company has invested in a 20,000-square-meter production facility in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. The first 5,000-square-meter plant will be put into production by the end of this year, and all products will be supplied to MGM in Las Vegas. Star hotels such as MGM hotels.


According to Zhan Zhuo, the company has been authorized for 84 patents and invention patents accounted for more than 65%. The PCT international patents of the company's key technical equipment have covered countries and regions such as Europe and the United States, and exported to the United States, Europe, Japan, Singapore and other countries. The top level of China's advanced indoor facilities agriculture has the ability to export to developed countries.


New drug research and development to help the big health industry


Regarding the application fields of plant factories, Zhongke Sanan also has an important plan for the development of innovative drugs, which is one of their main directions in the future.


"We have to choose materials that are difficult to survive in the wild environment, difficult to replicate, difficult to obtain, and can be solved at the factory, but cannot be cultivated by traditional production methods or cultivation methods. Plant compounds and metabolites are allowed to be adjusted by factory technology. Enriched, this opens up new avenues for us to make biomedical materials, and the cost and source of obtaining active ingredients are more stable." Zhan Zhuo said.


Not only that, but in the view of Yan Tingyun, plant factories will also play a big role in promoting the development of the Chinese medicine industry. The cultivation of traditional Chinese medicinal materials is often affected by pesticide pollution or heavy metal pollution, and the content of active ingredients is not stable, which will greatly affect the therapeutic effect of the formula. If a plant factory is used to produce valuable Chinese herbal medicines, the yield, quality and active ingredients can be guaranteed.


The plant factory located at the Hutou base not only produces high-quality safe vegetables, but also health care products, special medicinal plants, and anti-tumor and other major medical intermediates.


Since July this year, the company officially started the production of medicinal plants in plant factories. The first Golden Lotus production line has been put into production and has obtained the organic conversion certification. The reporter saw a variety of valuable Chinese herbal medicines such as golden lotus and sarcophagus in the production workshop of Zhongke Sanan Plant Factory.


"Innovative drug research and development will contribute to the human health industry in the future. However, the research started late, everything has just begun, and there is still a long way to go in the future." Li Shaohua said.


Zhan Zhuo believes that the development prospects of plant factories are limitless. The solar integrated container plant factory produced by the company has been sent to the frontier, and will realize vegetable production for the first time in the unmanned area at an altitude of 5 kilometers, contributing to the life supply of the border guards.


“The plant factory is the most advanced stage of development of facility agriculture, which can greatly improve land utilization and solve the increasingly prominent food safety problems; not only in urban agriculture, but also in special defense equipment, ocean-going vessels, desert islands, aerospace and other special The environmental field has important strategic significance and broad application space.” Zhan Zhuo is full of confidence in the future of the plant factory.