With the world getting nearer and nearer to a huge food scarcity crisis, researchers and engineers from around the world gather knowledge and resources to develop means for water-saving, climate-independent farming practices.
Not too long ago, I introduced you to CoolFarm, a Portuguese-based initiative, which looks into smart indoor farming developments. Since then, the guys received a Vodafone Power Lab- Next-Generation Networks Award, receiving quite a boost from the giant mobile phone operator.
In the mean time, Philips, one of the giants in technology and innovation, just opened the world’s largest indoor farming facility, solely dedicated to research and development of techniques for optimal indoor food production. The place is called GrowWise City Farming Center, and it is located in Enidhoven, The Netherlands.
The farming center is equipped with specially developed LED horticulture lighting system, which emit different colour light, influencing the behavior of plants. Using this system, the team operating the technology can regulate the yield, the shape and size, and even the chemical content of the herbs and greens that they grow.
The guys have estimated that production of some herbs can easily reach record quantities- one square metre of floor space can easily grow 900 pots of basil, for example. Another incredible boost in production was observed with tomatoes, which was found particularly beneficial during winter. Thanks to strict regulations on hygiene, all produce is 100% organic, and grows without any need of chlorine washing or pesticides.
The plants grow in soil-free conditions, where the growing substrate is known as Rockwool. After it is used and exhausted, the supplier recycles it into eco-friendly building insulation.
The facility also reports huge savings on water used for irrigation. The head of the sustainability department at Philips, Nicola Kimm, points out that with the latest technology at the facility the production of one kilo tomatoes will take about 5 liters of water, while the same amount grown in open farm in the Netherlands will take up around 30 liters, and in Spain it could easily take up 60 liters.
A very interesting fact about the tomato-growing section of the indoor farm, is that production relies on bee pollination. The “busy workers” are brought in specifically for this purpose.
The teams working within the facility hope that the work and research they do at GrowWise will help large food-producers to be able to deliver the ever-so needed locally produced food, which is healthy, sustainable, affordable, grown with minimum waste of resources.
Image (c) Philips