“According to our research, most vertical farms are focused on lighting as a means of improving yield and growth speed,” says Rob Agterberg, Partner at Back of the Yard Algae Sciences (BYAS).
“However, not enough vertical farms are looking at innovative ways of growing faster and better. Through our research, we’ve discovered that certain algal proteins improve the photosynthetic process and this results in a biostimulant effect and also improves taste, aroma, shelf life and nutrient value in vertically farmed crops such as lettuce."
The biostimulant research
“At BYAS we’re creating ingredients such as alternative proteins, food colorants, made from microalgae. We have a patented, unique, zero-waste production process that enables us to extract food ingredients and alternative proteins from microalgae,” says Marc Peter Geytenbeek, Partner at BYAS. The company has been researching its biostimulant for vertical farming the past 2 years and recently published a scientific article outlining a number of breakthrough results. Currently, the biostimulant is being tested by vertical farming companies, including across the world.
Saving time and money
Rob states that about two-thirds of vertical farms are struggling to be economically viable, due to their high capital expenditures. He says: “Our research has shown that lettuce growth increases after adding the biostimulant. This increase results in up to 20% shorter growth cycles, saving on lighting and therefore energy and labor costs. We think that our biostimulant can be a huge boost to make vertical farms more economically sustainable.”
“Surprisingly, the biostimulant can be made from algae grown on agriculture waste streams,” says Rob. The biostimulant is organic and GRAS (generally recognized as safe). What is particularly interesting to vertical farming is the fact that the biostimulant is an extract, so there is no need to administer a live bacteria or fungus into a hydroponic system. BYAS is committed to the circular economy - sustainable re-use of resources. This can be found in the production processes that are zero-waste and use very little energy.