As controlled environment agriculture continues to prove itself for a broadening array of food and medicinal crops, Seedo Corp. is pushing the boundaries even further by producing one of the most challenging crops and the world’s most expensive spice indoors: saffron.
Seedo Corp. is an Israeli agtech company focusing on research, development and commercialization of agricultural products that are typically challenging to produce. The company is growing saffron in a controlled environment in order to increase global supply and optimize saffron’s taste and medicinal profile, similar to how cannabis producers adjust the growing environment to achieve a certain chemical profile.
“At Seedo Corp. and now with Æssense equipment, our objectives are to impact the properties of saffron to respond to the demand from nutraceutical companies. We want to create a premium product,” says David Freidenberg, chief executive officer of Seedo Corp.
According to David, is doing this to reduce the price to consumers and better document saffron production. Currently, roughly 95% of the world’s saffron is produced in Iran and David explains that there is a lot of fraud and fake saffron within the industry. “The revolution that we’re looking to create will increase saffron supply and reduce the price. While the saffron industry isn’t well documented, we know that there is a lack of supply. We’re still in the research phase but are looking forward to establishing commercial operations.”
Seedo Corp. successfully achieved two flowerings of saffron within a year with hydroponics but is looking to improve its production method because root submersion in water seemed to negatively impact the plants. And so, Seedo Corp. began researching different solutions including aeroponics, which would allow the roots to be sprayed with a nutrient solution rather than simply submerged in water. Seedo Corp. decided on ÆssenseGrows’ modular system called Ætrium.
“Æssense provides an aeroponic production system that gives us answers to hydroponic challenges while also helping us better control light, temperature, humidity and nutrient levels. While this is the first time that this technology will be used for saffron, we’re very confident that this is a good solution,” says David.
Æssense’s equipment will arrive by the end of July and will be installed over 250 m2. Aside from simply increasing the global saffron supply, Seedo Corp. is eager to use Æssense systems to enhance flavor for culinary applications and to optimize saffron’s nutraceutical profile. This is similar to how cannabis’ chemical profile can be modified by adjusting the environmental conditions in the production area. And that level of high-resolution control is exactly what Æssense is bringing to the table.
When envisioning Seedo Corp.’s first commercial operation, David says that the first indoor saffron farm would be established in Israel. The company also has a strong relationship with the Polytechnic Institute of Valencia, which could lead to production in Spain as well.