11. What are the PlantLab yields compared to traditional growing?
Explaining our yield is a lot like explaining the theory of relativity. To put it simply, the answer depends on WHO is asking, WHICH QUESTION is being asked, and WHAT COMPARSION the question is making.
Vincent Icke, a Dutch professor of cosmology, explained the theory of relativity to his children using a children’s book. A girl called Asa lost her little sister, Miki, in their village. Finding her is less dependent on the absolute positions of both girls, and more on the relative distance between the two (no matter where they may wander). In other words, space is relative.
Asking what crop production method is best, or how much better PlantLab’s approach is compared to others, is too absolute and generic. Why is this the case? If we consider the example above, we are not only comparing the distance between the sisters, but also the different qualities each sister (or, in our case, crop) has. The question can only be answered if we are considering a specific example and timeframe. If the perspective changes, the calculations will also change.
We will illustrate this using the following example:
Of the many variables required for crop production, let’s focus on one: sunlight. To simplify our example, we will assume the intensity of sunlight is constant. This allows us to focus on the total hours of sunlight received by a plant. (This of course, is too simple, because intensity varies by location, season and time of day. However, in an effort to easily illustrate our point, we will keep things simple.)
If we want to compare PlantLab with traditional open-field growing, location is a key factor; are we in the North Pole, at the equator or somewhere else? The amount of sunlight received varies significantly by location, as well as by season. The season can also have an impact on plant behavior. Furthermore, there are a lot of differences between crops. For example, some crops are able to easily produce a sizeable amount of biomass from sunlight, while others will work much harder and only achieve a fraction of that amount.
We still have a few more factors to take into account. The ultimate use of the crops being grown is also important. Will they be used for medical purposes, for their nutritional value, or for a certain taste profile (e.g. not bitter)? We also need to consider the speed of growing. For example, sometimes we want to use the energy a plant produces to have it growing faster or improve its flavor. Another important factor to take into account is if we are considering the weight of the yield or the weight of the substance produced from the yield.
As you can see, despite only focusing on sunlight, countless other questions have arisen about other variables. These can only be answered by considering the specific circumstances of the situation and who is asking the question.
To generalize somewhat, we sometimes take a few of those variables together.
For example, suppose we want to compare the amount of biomass that crops grown in an open field can produce from sunlight. Ordinary grass can produce 3%, while sugarcane can produce 4%. This means that ‘just’ 3 – 4 % of the total sun energy is converted into biomass. This is particularly high, as crops typically fall in the range of 0.1% to 0.5%. This is because plants cannot absorb most of the light that comes from the sun, including, for example, green light. At PlantLab, our crops can – on an average -easily produce 3 to 5 times the 0.1% to 0.5% range! However, it is important to keep in mind that in an open field, these numbers vary by the seasons.
Controlled growing using PlantLab’s PPU makes life easier and simpler. We are able to offer the same quality of crops, year-round and in any location.
However, as we saw earlier, different customers may define quality differently. We too cannot exclude relativity from our calculations!