Revolution in plant growing
We are living in interesting times. This is an understatement as far as cultivation in greenhouses is concerned. We will outline three developments that after 10,000 years of land cultivation ‘on the plains of the earth’ could completely change the face of crop growing.
We start with seeing new forms of indoor farming and layers, the first development. Dickson Despommier, Professor at Columbia University, developed the first concept of vertical farming in 1999. This quickly went from rooftop gardens to complete flats with cultivation floors. At PlantLab we also have experience with this.
But as far as developments are concerned there is more going on. Energy-wise the current greenhouses are outdated. Incidence of light cannot be regulated, a lot of costly moisture and CO2 escapes when windows are opened. Sudden bright sunlight can destroy a carefully created climate all at once. The many stands holding the greenhouse roofs are in the way of camera-operated cultivation. Plant Production Units remedy all these limitations in one go.
The second development is the availability of special LED lighting. WithLED lighting we only provide wavelengths that are useful for growth and development of the crop. In contrary to the sun, traditional assimilation lighting and TL lighting, LED only omits one color of light. No energy is wasted with light spectra that are not used or less used by the plant. This means we can provide exactly the colors that the plant needs forphotosynthesis. Plants mainly need blue and red light for photosynthesis and far-red, a color not even visible to the human eye but visible to the plant. The relationships between the light colors determine the form of the plant. The costs-of-ownership of LED lamps are decreasing steadily. See Haitz’sLaw.
The application of mathematical models for plant cultivation forms the third development. Our growth models are the result of years of research into the cultivation of cut flowers, pot plants, vegetables and fruit. We have processed crop measurements from hundreds of measuring fields at homeand abroad since 1994. This includes the registration of fresh weight, dry matter, amount of harvested produce and development speed. We have distilled hard patterns from the countless measuring data that forms the basis for growth models. Depending on the ultimate objective we combine these growth models with economic calculation models. This means countless operational, tactical and strategic options and scenarios can be calculated. We calculate what is possible and what is not and obtain insight into causes and consequences.
The fourth development and real breakthrough as far as we are concerned is in the amalgamation of these developments supplemented by new technologies in the field of climate control, sensors, vision technology and automation. This creates a joint value that is so much more than the sum of the parts. In a few years new types of nurseries will be built all over the world where products can be cultivated in several layers using LED lighting and fully conditioned areas without daylight. These multilayered nurseries will be close to the consumers and provide many advantages such as a higher production level with a precisely predictable harvesting time anda controllable product as far as appearance, taste and nutritional value is concerned.
Unique in the world
At PlantLab we have made the combination of the four described developments and are proud to claim that our Plant Master Plan is leading in the world. PlantLab has the knowledge to make the wishes of the plant insightful and to lay them down in a Plant-ID. This means we can create the ideal technical surroundings for the plant. PlantLab provides the most advanced Research Units for researchers.
For producers of vegetables, flowers and pot plants we scale up to Plant Production Units. Read more about Plant Production Units here. Large-scale production areas distinguish themselves by the following features:
- Higher production
- Local for local production (grow where used)
- Customized production (quantity)
- Customized quality (taste, composition, appearance, etc)
- Higher space efficiency
- Higher energy efficiency
- Higher CO2 efficiency
- No light contamination
- Low pesticide use
- Production possible everywhere
- Sustainable production