iFarm, a technology company specializing in IT-enabled agriculture within a controlled environment, developed its first technologies for indoor radish cultivation. These novel methods are now ready to be used on leafy greens and vegetable farms utilizing iFarm technologies. After three years of experiments, the team of agronomists has discovered the optimal formula for achieving high radish yields with a minimal defect rate year-round.
Radishes are not the easiest crop to grow, whether indoors or outdoors. In northern regions, it is common to see radish beds covered in black plastic. This is because radishes, being finicky, do not thrive in direct sunlight or long daylight hours. Additionally, their seeds require protection from rain and wind. Without these precautions, radishes simply won't germinate successfully.
Regardless of where radishes are grown - whether in beds, greenhouses, or vertical farms - it's crucial to establish the right conditions and select resilient varieties to guarantee a high yield. This is especially significant in controlled-environment agriculture, where the choice of varieties and cultivation methods must be tailored to suit the enclosed growing conditions.
During the development of its pioneering technologies for cultivating radishes in vertical farms, the iFarm team conducted tests on various varieties of this crop. Several seed types from Rijk Zwaan and Gavrish were included in the experiments, which took place in the summer of 2023 at the iFarm lab farm.
"We not only tested and selected the most resistant radish varieties from these manufacturers, but we also fine-tuned the ideal temperature conditions sowing rate and developed a unique nutrient solution recipe. In addition, we balanced microclimate indicators. All these measures enabled us to reduce production defects to a mere 3%," says Nikolay Podvigin, an agronomist in the iFarm's R&D department.
Over a period of three years, the team conducted radish trials on vegetable farms, employing a variety of approaches to manage this finicky crop. These included soaking the seeds and attempting to grow radishes under mini-greenhouses to maintain high humidity.
"But there were no results; the plants didn't develop properly. Either they grew only to the size of a pea, or they were deformed. The defect rate amounted to as much as 30% of the total production." Nikolai explains.
"We even tested growing radish at lower temperatures and found that radishes could indeed be grown at night temperatures of only 15-17 °C. However, these conditions did not yield high returns. So we came back to the standard temperature regime: 19 °C at night and 22 °C during the day. This temperature range, coupled with our new approach to seeding rates and nutrient solution parameters, demonstrated the best and most consistent yields."
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