greenhub solutions: Leveraging R&D and Agronomic Talent

20240319_185822

June 7, 2024                                                                                                
Authors: Isabelle van Doorn, Niko Simos


Research and Development (R&D) in vertical farming

Research and Development (R&D) in vertical farming is crucial to address the challenges faced by the industry. 

The need for R&D in vertical farming arises from various challenges such as high energy consumption, limited crop variety, technological complexity, and environmental impact. Through research and development efforts, vertical farming can:

  1. Increase the amount of skilled agronomists: Vertical farms are heavily dependent on skilled Agronomists in order to grow plants efficiently. Developing more skilled agronomists and more experienced, will boost every farm’s productivity and the sector’s growth.
  2. Improve Energy Efficiency: R&D can focus on developing energy-efficient technologies, optimizing lighting systems, and integrating renewable energy sources to reduce the high energy consumption associated with vertical farming.
  3. Expand Crop Variety: Research can explore new plant species suitable for vertical farming, enhancing the range of crops that can be grown in controlled environments. This diversification can help meet consumer demand for a wider variety of fresh produce.
  4. Enhance Technological Solutions: R&D can address the technological complexity of vertical farming by developing more user-friendly systems, improving automation, and ensuring the reliability of technology to minimize disruptions and optimize crop yield.
  5. Reduce Environmental Impact: Research efforts can focus on reducing the carbon footprint of vertical farming by developing sustainable practices, recycling resources within the system, and minimizing energy wastage to create a more environmentally friendly industry.

 

The Challenges of Vertical Farming

The challenges of vertical farming can be categorized into economic, environmental, technological, crop-related, and business-related challenges.

Economic challenges in vertical farming include high startup and operating costs. Startups need substantial funding for acquiring premises, installing plant growth systems, setting up computer systems, and investing in growth materials. Operating costs, particularly energy expenses, are substantial due to the high demands for lighting and climate control systems. Environmental challenges arise from the significant energy consumption and resulting high carbon footprint associated with these systems. Technologically, vertical farming faces issues due to the underdevelopment of technology and the substantial know-how required. The technology is still young and needs frequent updates, which can be costly, and the necessary industry knowledge can be challenging for newcomers. Crop-related challenges include limited plant selection and the need for specialized pest control and pollination methods in closed growth systems. Business-related challenges involve meeting consumer demand for fresh, locally-grown produce, navigating sales regulations, and ensuring profitability.

Overall, addressing these challenges requires continued innovation, research, and collaboration within the industry and with policymakers to make vertical farming more accessible and economically viable.

greenhub solutions

greenhub solutions GmbH, based in Leipzig, is a startup dedicated to contributing to sustainable agriculture through innovative indoor farming technology. The company was founded by Kay and Alex, who initially focused on small-scale aquaponics systems for private households before pivoting to develop the GreenResearcher, a data mining tool for the industry. 

Greenhub aims to digitize and automate vertical farming knowledge, providing solutions primarily for research facilities, universities, colleges, and new indoor farmers. Their core values include providing access to food globally and democratizing the vertical farming value chain. The company's goal for 2024 is to democratize vertical farming and increase access to growth data while reducing energy consumption.
Greenhub's technology is characterized by its self-developed web application that enables input and output optimization, aiming to exploit the advantages of controlled indoor farming, such as 95% water and 70% fertilizer savings, while focusing on quality improvement. The company has successfully grown more than 40 different plant species in its functional models, showcasing the versatility and efficiency of its technology. Furthermore, greenhub's commitment to digitizing and automating the knowledge of tomorrow's vertical farming is evident through its development of the GreenResearcher, a data mining tool designed for industrial and academic research. 
This tool plays a crucial role in the RnD of vertical farming systems by providing a platform for the collection, analysis, and utilization of data from different cultivation scenarios.
Through this device, young agronomists and workers from vertical farms can gain extensive experience in growing plants and collecting data about cultivation. In fact, people who want to enter the industry can become hands-on growers and agronomists after 40-45 days of using the GreenResearcher

How GreenResearcher contributes to these goals:


  1. Data Collection and Analysis: GreenResearcher collects data from various sensors installed in vertical farming systems. This data includes information on temperature, humidity, light intensity, nutrient levels, and more. By analyzing this data, researchers and growers can identify patterns and correlations between different environmental factors and plant growth outcomes. This analysis helps in understanding the specific needs of plants in different environments, such as optimal temperature ranges, light requirements, photoperiod, and nutrient levels for maximum yield and quality.

  2. Automated Trials: The tool enables the automation of trials, allowing researchers, growers and agronomists to test different cultivation conditions and nutrient levels under controlled settings. This automation ensures that trials are repeatable and consistent, which is crucial for validating the findings and developing reliable cultivation recipes. By automating these trials, GreenResearcher helps in identifying the most efficient and sustainable cultivation practices for various plant species.

  3. Standardization of Research: GreenResearcher standardizes the data collection process across different vertical farming systems. This standardization ensures that the data collected is comparable, making it easier to draw conclusions and apply findings across different research projects and commercial applications. The tool's ability to standardize data collection and analysis processes is key to advancing the field of vertical farming by facilitating the sharing of knowledge and best practices.

  4. Improving Resource Use Efficiency: By providing insights into the optimal conditions for plant growth, GreenResearcher helps in improving resource use efficiency. Researchers and growers can adjust the cultivation parameters based on the data collected, reducing waste and ensuring that resources are used as effectively as possible.

 

Partnering with Siemens

greenhub's collaboration with Siemens exemplifies a pioneering approach to sustainable agriculture through their joint venture in vertical farming. Siemens, a global leader in technology and innovation, has partnered with greenhub to implement vertical farming units at its Frankfurt branch, signaling a significant step towards sustainable food production within corporate environments.

Implemented by the Siemens Restaurant Services team, the vertical farming model utilizes Siemens' cutting-edge control technology to facilitate efficient and sustainable plant growth. Integrated with Greenhub's device and farm management app. This collaboration not only underscores Siemens' dedication to sustainability but also highlights the potential for innovation in the food industry.


 

Conclusion

In conclusion, greenhub's solutions, including the automation of irrigation and nutrient management, adjustable light spectrum, and the capability to conduct research within a 1m2 device, represent a significant advancement in vertical farming technology. 

The company's focus on efficiency, sustainability, and the integration of technology into urban spaces makes it a promising player in the future of agriculture. By leveraging data-driven decision-making and fostering collaborations between academia and industry, greenhub is poised to make a lasting impact on the global agricultural landscape, addressing the challenges of food security and environmental sustainability in innovative ways.

Do you want to revolutionize vertical farming through research trials and R&D? Get in touch with greenhub in order to provide you with the GreenResearcher, greenhub looks for strong partners in academia, research and vertical farms. Reach out to them directly at www.greenhub.eu or you can contact Isabelle, their Business Development Manager directly.

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