Toshiba is not only learning a lot about farming through this promising venture, its managers are discovering new ways in which their high-tech equipment and systems can be applied to optimize agricultural efforts. One notable discovery involves the re-purposed factory’s ability to control the growing environment in a very precise manner. Very slight modifications in variables such as the length and intensity of lighting can change the nutritional values and even the tastes of the vegetables, for example. Back to the bottom line, tastier and more nutritious vegetables can bring higher prices when sold.
Toshiba’s former disk factory in Yokosuka isn’t the company’s only idle facility, and rivals such as Sharp, Fujitsu and Panasonic rub shoulders in the same restructuring boat. Toshiba’s success with the Toshiba Clean Room Farm Yokosuka will certainly spur these competitors to emulate Toshiba’s example. As for Toshiba, the company sees a bright future for both re-purposed factories of this type and in spreading the adapted technology to nations in the far north and middle east where fresh food is needed but conditions on the ground make traditional farming unworkable. Eventually these techniques may find their way onto orbiting space stations and off-Earth colonies. (all images via TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA/AFP/Getty Images)