Potential of tomato commercial production in plant factories with artificial lighting
Plant factory with artificial lighting (PFAL), an advanced crop production system with high productivity and high resource use efficiency, is commonly designed with multi-layers vertically for productions of leafy- and fruit-vegetables near or inside cities. PFAL is a possible promising tool for increasing future tomato production regardless of location or climate constraints. Subject to its structural characteristics and controllable environment, the traits of tomatoes required for cultivation in PFALs are different from greenhouses. The mini tomatoes (high wire or dwarf type with small fruit size) are cultivars with great potential for producing in PFALs due to their controllable plant height, small leaf size, beautiful fruit sets, and high market prices. Whether it is feasible to produce tomatoes commercially in a PFAL depends on the economic applicability of this cultivation method. The productivity, market price, and production cost of tomatoes should be considered to evaluate its potential. In this study, the cultivation experiments of 3 cultivars of tomatoes in PFALs were conducted to estimate the revenue and cost structure of tomato production in PFALs. Then a comparison was made to analyze the profitability difference of several crops. Since tomatoes are widely grown in greenhouses, we selected 4 countries to make a comparison of the productivity, environmental conditions and energy consumption of tomato production between PFALs and other cultivation facilities. On this basis, the revenue and cost structure was analyzed for tomato production in different countries. The results show that the mini tomatoes have a high yield and good quality with greater economic potential and it is more economically competitive than strawberries. The profit of tomato production in PFALs varies greatly from country to country, with the greatest economic potential in Japan. Taking full advantage of the environmental control of PFALs to produce tomatoes with high economic value would be an effective way to increase the profit potential of tomato production in PFALs.
Zhuang, Yunfei, Xu, Wenshuo, Lu, Na, Ren, Xiaowei, Kikuchi, M. and Takagaki, M. (2023). Potential of tomato commercial production in plant factories with artificial lighting. Acta Hortic. 1369, 133-140
PFAL, mini tomato, dwarf tomato, commercial production, economic feasibility