The 1st UHF Research & Demonstration Farm has begun production in cooperation with Brightbox, an initiative of Botany. Since 2003, Botany has been on the frontline of research and development within the horticultural sector, providing their partners with reliable data and innovation. As CEO of Botany for nearly two decades, Peter Korsten has a unique view on the future of agriculture, having led the research organization that specialises in plant physiology, health and cultivation techniques through an era that has seen rapid adoption of technology. We recently had the opportunity to ask Peter a few questions on the future of indoor vertical farming.
Peter, what did you see in indoor vertical farming that inspired you to devote Botany’s resources to its research and development?
The possibilities of controlled environment agriculture (CEA), including indoor vertical farming inspired Botany because CEA makes it possible for Botany to contribute to the challenges agriculture has to overcome in the next decades to become a durable industry and feed the growing world population with healthy and fresh products.
Indoor vertical farming (IVF) is the only growing technology with the ability to be used in all the different climate zones throughout the world. IVF systems have a low impact on the planet by the minimal resources needed (water, fertilizers, etc.) and have no need for pesticides. By using indoor vertical farming, safe food can be produced and the system clears the path for fresh food with specified nutritious and healthy values.
Can you tell us a little about the expertise and technology Botany will utilise in the UHF Farm?
In the BrightBox system plants are germinated and rooted in small plugs that grow in a hydroponic growing system in which water and fertilizers are added. The climatizing system makes it possible to control climate factors such as temperature, light intensity, humidity and CO2 in a very accurate way. The lighting system has 4 different light spectra to grow the variety of plants in the most preferred circumstance. The system is run by using green electricity.
Within the UHF R&D Farm, we’ll be developing brand-new salad mixes and finetuning our knowledge in order to scale our operations to a commercial level. How will the knowledge and innovation Botany has acquired assist us in this evolution?
UHF has the ambition to scale CEA and operations to a commercial level. Botany has over 10 years of experience in IVF by doing research and development activities and operations. Botany will help UHF by speeding up the development in agronomic knowledge, operations and expertise. Next to that, Botany’s experience and knowledge of the IVF technical do’s and don’ts will help making the right decisions in technical development of their own commercial and industrial scale farms.