This year’s Fruit Logistica Innovation Award went to the Netherlands’ Staay Food Group. Its City Farming project uses custom greenhouses outfitted with specialized LED lighting to quickly cultivate seeds into young plants.
Young lettuce plants are grown to maturity in temperature controlled nursery rooms under LED lighting. Using this technique, the time to maturity can be reduced from 100 to 30 days – even in the winter.
A press release issued by Staay Food Group read:
“The great advantage of this concept is that in the near future, regardless of the season and climate conditions, certain vegetables can be grown anywhere in the world. As soon as the plants have been sown and start developing in the nursery rooms with LED lighting, a harvest date can be determined.”
Optimum growing conditions make pesticides unnecessary: temperature, irrigation and fertilizing are controlled automatically. Moreover, cultivation can take place in urban areas with limited space.
Trials of the project with Salanova and Salatrio with root ball varieties of lettuce took two years. Each plant variety performs under a different light recipe which takes time to optimize and therefore the company cannot yet project how quickly the City Farming project will evolve.
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