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Combining floriculture with vertical farming

In the last decade, many companies emerged to establish herb and greens cultivation within climate-controlled vertical farms or city farm facilities devoid of daylight. A plant specialist for floriculture from Philips observed these advancements with keen interest over the years. Contemplating the potential benefits of vertical farming for the cultivation of young plants in floriculture, the specialist decided to take a hands-on approach.

The standard practice of growing plants under daylight in conventional greenhouses prompted plant specialists to explore the possibility of cultivating floriculture crops without daylight in the context of vertical farming. The controlled environment of vertical farms eliminates the impact of daylight on plant growth, enabling precise control over the growing climate throughout the day.

Cultivating in a controlled environment not only allows for optimal management of factors such as plant quality, growth speed, and reduced water usage but also mitigates the need for insecticides and fungicides due to the restricted entry of diseases and bacteria.

Motivated by these potential benefits, a floriculture trial was conducted in a climate-controlled test facility at BrightBox in Venlo. Focused on the propagation phase of flowers, the trial included a diverse selection of annual and perennial plants. The cultivation conditions of a greenhouse were translated into a climate-controlled environment, incorporating insights from City Farm plant specialists and aligning light levels with greenhouse references and scientific literature.

Results from the trial demonstrated that each variety of flower responds differently to a specific light recipe, and climate settings play a crucial role. The findings affirmed the feasibility of cultivating floriculture young plants in a daylight-free environment, emphasizing the importance of balancing climate factors and lighting. Light intensity and spectrum choices were found to be even more significant in vertical farming compared to traditional greenhouses.

While acknowledging that the trial was a preliminary exploration, it provided valuable insights into the potential of cultivating diverse varieties of young annuals and perennials in a daylight-free environment. Some plants thrived under specific light recipes, contributing to the understanding of how different crops respond to various conditions. Despite variations in results, the majority of tested light recipes yielded compact, robust plants with healthy root systems.

The conclusion drawn from the trial is that it is possible to develop specific growth recipes for various crops in a city farm, offering new possibilities for the floriculture sector beyond the confines of traditional greenhouses. This initial exploration lays the foundation for further optimization based on the desirable characteristics of specific varieties, demonstrating the potential for cultivating high-quality plants across different crops under a unified light recipe.

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