“Food safety is a major concern for consumers, especially now", says Jan Doldersum, Manager Chain and Retail at Rijk Zwaan. Produce availability can be ensured through hydroponics as yield can be scheduled, whilst depending less on climate. Therefore, vertical farming could be the solution to creating certainty in the production chain, Jan adds.
Rijk Zwaan and Signify teamed up to present the benefits of high-tech seeds and lights in their brand new studio at de Lier, the Netherlands.
"Working with the right partners and having the right knowledge is very beneficial, as the vertical farming industry is challenging. Rijk Zwaan can offer unique traits to remedy common struggles. Such as, overcoming issues in the cultivation process, advice in crop and cultivation management, market insights and chain management.
"Breeding for controlled environment conditions, according to Jan, means selecting for strong against tip burn and elongation. Rijk Zwaan works together with Signify, conducting research to breed varieties for various improvements."
Jan Doldersum, Manager Chain and Retail at Rijk Zwaan
One of the vertical farming concepts that the companies developed is Salanova Teenleaf. In denser, closer planting to optimize the output, upright the leaf structure for good yield and volume, which creates more opportunities for harvest. Another solution, KNOX, ensures delayed pinking in fresh-cut lettuce for multiple varieties.
Optimizing crop performance with high tech lighting
“Crop performance can be optimized through high-tech lighting,” says Jarno Mooren, Plant Specialist at City Farming Signify. There are three benefits of dynamic lighting. The percentages of blue, red, green and far-red give more flexibility, controllability and predictability.
Jarno Mooren, Plant Specialist at City Farming Signify
The benefit of flexibility is that crops can be changed over time, which enables farmers to follow the latest crop trends and to optimize light for specific varieties. "When having full lighting controllability, the nutritional crop value can be improved, by enhancing the coloration of lettuce. This results in a longer and optimized shelf-life", Jarno states.
Controllability enables a farmer to better steer crop morphology. Whereas, lighting predictability will optimize lighting for every growth phase of the plant. Jarno adds: "This improves plannability and a more accurate yield forecast, through decreasing or increasing the growth speed. Therefore, when optimizing your lighting, better crop performance will be the result."