Brightbox celebrates 5 years. The open innovation center for vertical farming in Venlo celebrated the anniversary with the presentation of a study by Jasper den Besten, lecturer in New Crop Systems at the HAS, on the production of basil.
At Brightbox, education, knowledge and the market in the field of high-tech horticulture come together. It is an initiative of Botany, HAS University of Applied Sciences and Philips Lighting. The Province of Limburg is also closely involved. The research conducted here focuses on the production of plants in closed systems. Instead of daylight, new LED technology is used to provide the plants with the required light. In the BrightBox, all factors that determine the growth of a plant can be controlled.
The perfect climate
The advantage of daylight-free multilayer cultivation is the possibility of creating the perfect climate for the plant. Fungal diseases have no chance of infection and insects do not easily enter the system, so chemical pesticides are no longer necessary. Because the system is closed, no CO2 is lost. Water and nutrients are recirculated.
Jasper den Besten is a lecturer in New Cultivation Systems and directs BrightBox. He hired Pim Vingerhoets, former HAS student and intern at Brightbox, to research the combination of basil varieties and light recipes.
Companies at home and abroad were approached to supply different pot basil varieties. "Normally growers already have a certain variety", says Pim, "and you research which light recipe suits such a variety best. In this study, the approach was the other way around: we used the four standard light recipes present in the BrightBox demo cell and applied them to a large number of varieties to see how they reacted to the recipes. In this way we tried to find the best combinations. Because not all varieties are at all suitable for a closed system."
Two varieties were tested in combination with the four light recipes, leading to as many as 9000 plants in Brightbox. The differences were huge. "We also expected this, but now we can also prove it. You actually have to see it as a big puzzle of varieties and recipes of which we have put some pieces in the right place. So we are also far from finished. Hopefully the research group can continue to test certain varieties in the future, in collaboration with the sector."
The results of the research have been shared with the companies that supplied the varieties. The researchers hope this will enthuse them to also participate in the follow-up research. All in the spirit of open innovation.
Pim Vingerhoets looks back on the study with satisfaction. "It is a search based on trial and error. I myself only came into contact with the plant sector and multilayer cultivation towards the end of my studies, but it has fascinated me enormously since then. I am proud that I was able to contribute a bit to the development of a fairly new cultivation technique with this research."