A little over a year ago, the Kiempunt editors spoke with René van Haeff of Light4Food about their smart indoor growing systems. At that time, they were looking for the ultimate light recipe for high wire crops. A spray booth was converted into a small test installation for that purpose. We sought them out again: how is Light4Food doing now?
What has happened at Light4Food in the meantime?
"Research remains important. Meanwhile, a larger version high wire crop chamber of 65 m2 was built and tomatoes were exchanged for cucumbers. Both the snack-size version and the regular cucumbers are now undergoing research. Soon we will place strawberries in multiple layers."
"We see that our customers have an increasing need for mechanization of their processes. Between mid-2018 and mid-2019, we developed a complete hydroponics system for a company in Germany, producing different types of plants on floats. We developed the floats themselves, as well as the machine to fill the floats with potting soil and seed and a system to remove the floats from the water before harvest."
That sounds like a serious implementation!
"That's right, we are now in a phase where we are developing less and applying more. This is also necessary, because as we said back then: you can't build a healthy company with only new ideas. Implementation is important to make that development time pay off."
Does it also mean that your company has grown in manpower?
"Yes, we now have 13 employees and 7 interns and students running around. In addition, we still work with our experienced retirees and with a pool of self-employed people. We have now also set up teams for cultivation, construction of cultivation systems and for development and construction of machinery."
"We have been commissioned by Wageningen University & Research to build a vertical farm in Blijswijk, a highly innovative project. There will be 4 airtight cells with both high wire crops and multi-layer cultivation of low crops. This involves working with extremely high light levels: normally 200 to 300 µmol, now it is between 1000 and 1500 µmol PAR. Part of the cells are equipped with dynamically adjustable LED lighting, so that we can study the effects of the light level and the light spectrum. Photosynthesis, water and nutrient uptake of the entire crop can be measured via an extensive measuring and control system. Both nutrition and energy balance of the cells will be offered and monitored intensively. In April 2020, we expect the facility to be ready for use."
To know more?
View the video of Light4Food where the new machines and applications are shown: