Smart Farm Technology for Kidney Disease Developed by Korean Researchers

Smart farm technology to grow kale which reduces potassium and increases calcium for patients with kidney disease has been developed.

The Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) said that a team of researchers at the Smart Farm Convergence Research Center succeeded in producing low-calorie kale that does not affect plant growth by replacing potassium with calcium in kale cultivation.

In addition, the low-calorie kale produced by this technology is expected to be developed as food for kidney disease patients with improved functionality with the increased content of glucosinolate, an anti-cancer ingredient.

Potassium is an essential mineral for humans and plants. However, patients who need blood dialysis, such as chronic kidney failure, which does not function smoothly, should limit their intake of potassium due to their decreased ability to excrete potassium.

KIST researchers used the method of adding calcium, a mineral that most Koreans consume less than the recommended amount, instead of potassium.

For two weeks before the kale harvest, potassium was replaced with calcium to control the potassium concentration of the culture solution, and a low-calorie kale production method was developed that does not increase the sodium content. Kale’s output could also be maintained at the same level as the existing conditions.

KIST researchers have also developed a method to increase the amount of glucosinolate, an anti-cancer substance originally contained in kale, and found that the total glucosinolate content increased by 44% from kale grown in a plant factory for 49 days after sowing compared to high potassium kale.

Despite the recent growing global interest in the production of various vegetables through artificial light plant plants, it has been difficult to industrialize due to high facility investment and operating costs.

The development is expected to contribute to the industrialization of artificial light-type smart farms in Korea by developing cultivation technology for the production of special-purpose natural materials for disease treatment.

Dr. Noh Joo-won of KIST said, “This study is expected to help improve the quality of life as people who are restricted from eating potassium due to the weak kidney can eat kale without worrying about hypercalcemia.

The findings were published in the latest issue of the international journal “Food Chemistry” (Top 3.96 percent of JCR).

Source: Press Release by KIST. (n.d.). Retrieved December 24, 2020, from

Categories: Tech&Innovation