Growers hit by energy increases could increase productivity with a novel seed treatment. Zayndu shows yield increases of 10 – 27% in the yield of herb and salad crops after treatment with its Aurora plasma tech. Autumn and winter planting in heated glasshouses will be reduced due to energy costs. The Zayndu Aurora System uses low-energy plasma tech to treat the seeds in small batches prior to planting. The treatment takes minutes to complete and produces no waste – just clean air and seeds. Leafy greens have short growth cycles with germination times of two to three weeks and 4 to 8 weeks to harvest. Shaving 1.5 days from each cycle can also increase throughput.
Growers affected by energy price hikes may be able to boost output with cutting-edge seed treatment. Results shared by Zayndu reveal faster germination after treatment with its Aurora plasma tech, as well as production improvements of 10–27% in herb and salad crops. Bernhard Strauss, Director of Research and Operations at consulting firm Camrosh, believes that increasing efficiency might have a huge influence on the industry. In partnership with the Institute for Manufacturing at the University of Cambridge, he just finished an analysis of the energy needs of the controlled environment horticulture industry for Defra.
According to Strauss, “Growers are under increasing pressure, particularly in the high-tech glasshouse industry where energy prices continue to be absurdly expensive. Even more so in vertical farming, where typical annual electricity inputs range from 300 to 700 kWh/m2 for lighting, HVAC, dehumidification systems, pumps, etc. With energy costs rising by 156%, economic viability is a serious problem. Therefore, the VF industry as well as other forms of glasshouse and polythene tunnel growth would be quite interested in a potential yield improvement in the area of 15% without extra inputs. A rise in labor or material inputs would be necessary for another approach to consistently boost yield at this level.”
Although leafy greens, such as lettuce as well as herb crops such as basil, cress, chive, parsley, dill, and coriander are currently grown to a large extent in different types of low-tech greenhouses and polythene tunnels, they are particularly suitable for the VF sector. With larger VF operators able to grow as many as 15-20 ‘harvests’ per year through tightly staggered planting cycles over an area footprint of less than half a hectare. The Zayndu Aurora System uses low-energy plasma technology to treat the seeds in small batches prior to planting. The treatment takes minutes to complete and produces no waste – just clean air and seeds.
In trials, it has been found that the yield increases on average: Chive 10%, Parsley 10%, Coriander 15%, Dill 27%. This yield increase, when multiplied by 20 harvests, with no additional energy requirement, would have a significant impact on margins. Furthermore, the Aurora system increased the germination of Spinach from 80% to 95% and accelerated it by approximately 1.5 days. Leafy greens have short growth cycles with germination times of two to three weeks and 4 to 8 weeks to harvest depending on crop; shaving 1.5 days from each cycle can also increase throughput. Research by Intelligent Growth Solutions (IGS) has found that shelf life is longer for vertical farmed produce, with lettuce lasting three weeks (compared to one week for open field) so less waste, and water use is less, with 250 L/kg in field compared to 1 L/kg in a vertical farm.
Image provided by Zayndu