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"Light is the most important growth factor in a vertical farm"

In vertical farms, all the production factors can be precisely controlled, making that we can precisely control the growth, development, and quality of the crops. LEDs play a crucial role in this control. A number of examples will be presented on how to use different light spectra and intensities to control the growth, development, and quality of plants and harvested products.

Leo Marcelis, a researcher at Wageningen University, is a speaker at the 2021 edition of the Vertical Farming Conference. In this interview, he shares what drives him in doing research on vertical farming. 

"I am passionate about understanding the functioning of plants and how we can control them in controlled environment agriculture. I want to improve the quality and yield of plants while improving sustainability and profitability. It is fascinating to understand the responses of plants to growing conditions."

What emerging technologies/trends do you see as having the greatest potential in the short and long run?
"It is in particular important that the different types of technologies are aligned with each other. We already know a lot about the use of LED lighting for plants. However, there is still even more to gain to make more efficient use of the lights by dynamically adapting the light (and other environmental conditions) to the status of the plant. Gradually we will move towards an autonomous control of the crop by using a combination of sensors, models, and artificial intelligence tools."

What kind of impact do you expect them to have?
"New technologies enable full control of the plant, resulting in higher yields, quality, and sustainability."

What are the barriers that might stand in the way?
"For large scale expansion of vertical farming, it is important to reduce the energy demand and reduce cost price. Improving the light use efficiency of plants as well as to the quality of the plant are key factors for success."

For more information:
Vertical farming conference 

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