A plant influences its own environment. That's not news. But this cannot be seen as much in a 'traditional' greenhouse environment as in a vertical farm.
Lisanne Meulendijks of Delphy researches vertical farming test setups on a daily basis. "A plant in a climate cell has less room because of the more compact setup. That's why the plant's influence on its environment is relatively a lot bigger. That interaction between the plant and its environment is something to take into account, from both a technical design and a cultivation strategy standpoint. Our practical research focuses on adapting the growing strategy while taking these plant influences into account."
Lisanne Meulendijks saw evidence in one of her studies. She set the computer to 28 degrees Celsius. The translation from the climate computer and the cell's technique brought the temperature definitely not to 28 degrees everywhere. Lisanne: "This doesn't have to be a problem, as long as the grower is aware of it. You have to understand what the settings can do with the technique. We have to go further and understand what the plant feels, not what the sensors in the climate room communicate. Due to that interaction, it deviates. The future will be the use of both sensors and algorithms. In that situation, a constant communication arises between climate computer, technique, and plant."
Research to scale up
Delphy’s research tries to bridge the gap between theory and practice. And her experiment is a good example of that. Outside the commercial vertical farming industry, there's a lot of demand for cultivation knowledge. It's a fairly new area. Fundamental research is on the one hand essential.
On the other hand, going from theory to practice is being missed. And that is where Delphy takes a step forward. The research question from Delphy is: How can I optimize plant production in a commercial vertical farm? A fundamental researcher asks him or herself the question: How can we explain plant physiology in a vertical farming environment? Delphy uses the results from the fundamental research, so that all the studies complement each other. Lisanne: "Our research is needed to be able to scale up from a trial setup to a commercial vertical farm."