Department of Business Development and Technology

Minimising the energy footprint of indoor food production while maintaining a high growth rate: Introducing disruptive cultivation protocols

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The majority of the cultivated species in indoor vertical farms require many hours of light each day to reach their full potential in terms of biomass, leaf size, nutritional value, taste, and colour. At the same time, the cost of electricity can be very high due to the many hours of operation, which can be an inhibiting factor for the advancement of technology and the profitability of the farm. In this study, we tested the growth of basil plants (Ocimum basilicum) under continuous and intermittent photoperiods. The leaf physiological traits of three different photoperiod treatments were assessed and used to estimate the toleration rate of the plants under different light schedules. In the first indoor growth chamber, the plants were grown under 16 h of continuous light, in the second chamber under a normal photoperiod of 14 h with intermittent light, and in the third chamber under a load-shifting demand response with 14 h of intermittent light. The purpose was to evaluate and design flexible intermittent light exposure to reduce the electricity consumption for crops grown in indoor en-vironments while maintaining a high growth rate and biomass production of the plants. The presented results of this experimental research show a positive correlation of the plants’ responses to abiotic stress when exposed to short 10-min periods of intermittent light, without having significant effects on the physiological responses of the cultivation. The physiological, biochemical, and morphological status of the plants were assessed in terms of photosynthetic rate, chlorophyll pigments, stomatal conductance, and transpiration rate of the plants. The protocol with intermittent light exposure induced a significantly 47% increase in biomass production compared to the continuous photoperiod, resulting in a more economical, sustainable, business, and ecological impact on the energy footprint of indoor food production.
Original languageEnglish
Article number108290
JournalFood Control
Volume130
ISSN0956-7135
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021

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