Small Vegetable Plant

to Debut for Use in Restaurants

Jun 14, 2010 11:33 Chikara Nakayama, Nikkei Monozukuri

Dentsu Facility Management Inc will start taking orders for the “Chef’s Farm,” a small vegetable plant that can be installed in, for example, a restaurant, in June 2010.

The vegetable plant, which will be released in the summer of 2010 in Japan, was exhibited at International Food Machinery & Technology Exhibition 2010 (FOOMA JAPAN 2010), which took place from June 8 to 11, 2010, in Tokyo. It is priced at about ¥8.3 million (approx US$90,552). Dentsu Facility Management claims that it is possible to harvest 60 heads of lettuce per day (20,000 per year) and recoup the investment in about five years.

The Chef’s Farm comes with five nutriculture beds, each of which is 2,750mm in width and 1,270mm in depth. Each bed is installed with long and thin metal frames on which lettuce seeds can be planted in sponges (one piece of sponge for a seed).

The metal frames are moved from right to left by inches as the vegetables grow. Seeds are planted in the rightmost frame, and grown vegetables are harvested from the leftmost frame.

Though the metal frames have to be manually moved, they can be moved at the same time by using a chained mechanism. It takes about an hour to harvest 60 heads of lettuce, move the frames and plant seeds, Dentsu Facility Management said.

As lighting equipment, 12 40W fluorescent lamps are installed for each nutriculture bed. The lighting equipment, culture solution and temperature can be controlled for each bed. Therefore, five different vegetables can be cultivated by using the five beds.

The size of the Chef’s Farm is 3,940 (W) x 1,460 (D) x 2,330mm (H) including the air shower unit. The cultivation space can be slid forward to make a space behind the nutriculture beds.

Received & published by Henry Sapiecha

Sterilizing, not killing, weeds suggested


WASHINGTON (UPI) — U.S. Agriculture Department scientists say using herbicides to sterilize instead of killing weedy grasses might be more economical and environmentally sound.

The USDA’s Agricultural Research Service said exotic annual grasses such as Japanese brome, cheatgrass and medusahead are harming millions of acres of grassland in the western United States. But herbicides used to control the invasive grasses also sometimes damage desirable perennial grasses.

In contrast, when used properly, scientists said growth regulators don’t greatly harm desirable perennial grasses and can control broadleaf weeds in wheat, other crop grasses and on rangelands.

ARS ecologist Matt Rinella and colleagues said they knew when dicamba and other growth regulator herbicides were applied to cereal crops late in their growth stage, just before seed formation, the plants produced far fewer seeds.

The scientists decided to see what occurred on the invasive weed Japanese brome. They found picloram (Tordon) reduced seed production nearly 100 percent when applied at the late growth stage of the weed. Dicamba (Banvel/Clarity) was slightly less effective but still nearly eliminated seed production, while 2,4-D was much less effective.

Rinella said since annual grass seeds only survive in soil a year or two, it should only take one to three years to greatly reduce the soil seed bank of annual weedy grasses without harming perennial grasses.

The research appeared in the journal Invasive Plant Science and Management.

Received and published by Henry Sapiecha 7th June 2010

Moth spit produces bigger potatoes


ITHACA, N.Y. (UPI) — Spit from a caterpillar helps Colombian Andes potatoes grow larger, a finding that could benefit farmers worldwide, scientists said.

The saliva of the potato moth larvae, Tecia solanivora, increases the rate of photosynthesis in the Colombian Andes potato plant, Solanum tuberosum, researchers from Cornell University said.

More photosynthesis means more carbon is drawn into the plant, which creates more starch and larger tubers, said co-author Andre Kessler, who teaches ecology and evolutionary biology at Cornell.


The plant may be compensating for tubers lost to damage from the caterpillar, a major pest, researchers from Cornell and the National University of Colombia said in a release Thursday.

“This could be an example where the co-evolutionary arms race led to a beneficial outcome for both,” Kessler said.

Future experiments will test more commercial varieties of potatoes, as well as wild potatoes, Kessler and his team wrote in a recent issue of the journal Ecological Applications.

Received and published by Henry Sapiecha 7th June 2010

Seed of extinct date palm

sprouts after 2,000 years

June 12, 2005|By Matthew Kalman, Chronicle Foreign Service

(06-12) 04:00 PST Kibbutz Ketura, Israel — 2005-06-12 04:00:00 PST Kibbutz Ketura, Israel — It has five leaves, stands 14 inches high and is nicknamed Methuselah. It looks like an ordinary date palm seedling, but for UCLA- educated botanist Elaine Solowey, it is a piece of history brought back to life.

Planted on Jan. 25, the seedling growing in the black pot in Solowey’s nursery on this kibbutz in Israel’s Arava desert is 2,000 years old — more than twice as old as the 900-year-old biblical character who lent his name to the young tree. It is the oldest seed ever known to produce a viable young tree.

The seed that produced Methuselah was discovered during archaeological excavations at King Herod’s palace on Mount Masada, near the Dead Sea. Its age has been confirmed by carbon dating. Scientists hope that the unique seedling will eventually yield vital clues to the medicinal properties of the fruit of the Judean date tree, which was long thought to be extinct.

Solowey, originally from San Joaquin (Fresno County), teaches at the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies at Kibbutz Ketura, where she has nurtured more than 100 rare or near-extinct species back to life as part of a 10-year project to study plants and herbs used as ancient cures.

In collaboration with the Louis L. Borick Natural Medicine Center at Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem, named in honor of its Southern California- based benefactor, Solowey grows plants and herbs used in Tibetan, Chinese and biblical medicine, as well as traditional folk remedies from other cultures to see whether their effectiveness can be scientifically proved.

In experiments praised by the Dalai Lama, for example, Borick Center Director Sarah Sallon has shown that ancient Tibetan cures for cardiovascular disease really do work.

The San Francisco Chronicle was granted the first viewing of the historic seedling, which sprouted about four weeks after planting. It has grown six leaves, but one has been removed for DNA testing so scientists can learn more about its relationship to its modern-day cousins.

The Judean date is chronicled in the Bible, Quran and ancient literature for its diverse powers — from an aphrodisiac to a contraceptive — and as a cure for a wide range of diseases including cancer, malaria and toothache.

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 8th April 2010