Vertical crops are becoming increasingly popular with both large and small businesses. There are companies in Poland that have been working on this technology for several years. Currently, the company Hydropolis from Krakow is in the process of implementing vertical cultivation near Warsaw. What can be grown in it and is there a chance to produce strawberries using this technology?
The first system was created in cooperation with, among others, with the University of Agriculture in Krakow. It was a simple vertical system in a sea container. The first cultivation recipes were prepared for lettuce.
From 2022, the company offers comprehensive solutions for the implementation of vertical crops in two systems: SMART CROP and Plantainer. For a year, they have also been carrying out one of the first contracted cultivations of basil on an area of 980 m2 near Warsaw, says Anna Drwięga from Hydropolis. The company also provides demand analysis, system design, calculations (OPEX, CAPEX), execution, and then assistance and subsequent supervision in cultivation.
As part of both systems (SMART CROP and Plantainer), the company can build a ready-made infrastructure equipped with their called Grow Wizard software, which manages production through algorithms and data on the cloud.
The solutions prepared as part of this technology provide optimal growth conditions for plants, they say. "What distinguishes e.g. herbs produced in such a system is their excellent taste and aroma, which corresponds to that obtained by growing these plants in optimal conditions," Wojciech Krajewski from Hydropolis claims. "When deciding to build a vertical farm, you can choose a new building or adapt the existing infrastructure."
"By implementing year-round vertical cultivation in a building with an area of 1000 m2, of which approx. 60% is intended for production, we can obtain over 50 tons of green biomass per year. Such an investment would cost about PLN 6 million. The return should take place after 2 years. We calculated this return for last year's energy prices. This year, when energy prices are stabilizing, the return on investment should be even faster."
The Hydropolis company, as part of the research conducted in the R&D center, is currently evaluating the production of strawberries. Completion of the works is planned for 2024. According to W. Krajewski, the first tests were promising. Particular attention is required, for example, to refine the technology of pollination of flowers by bumblebees (development of optimal conditions for the work of these insects).