Do not shut your eyes to the hard facts
Get out of it what is inside it i.e. fully utilising the plant’s potential cannot be done with ‘green fingers’ alone. Sometimes research details are sobering or even go against our opinions. This holds back a lot of innovation. Moreover many people close their eyes to the facts which lie just outside the daily area of attention but which are “actually” important. Whoever wants to take responsibility for the greater whole can nurture himself with facts.
Our challenge: The hard facts about food in the world do not lie. We already indicated that we want to play a role in this.
Our challenge: Also in our own area the research facts say: there is still a lot to win.
Get out of it what is inside it!
There are enough hard figures. We already have a great deal of research data about the growth of plants. There are unambiguous patterns behind them. We translate these into mathematical models. We focus on one simple question: how much and what do we put into it and what are the results? With all pertaining derivable questions, such as: how many days does it take a seed to reach a certain economic value? What taste does our customer want?
There are countless reasons to want to have an effect on the growth of crops. And also countless reasons to actually do so. However only a limited part of the available knowledge and experience is applied in practice. And it is not always really effective and efficient action. Our growth models are the result of years of research into the cultivation of cut flowers, pot plants, vegetables and fruit. This concerned inter alia the registration of fresh weight, dry matter percentages, quantities and development speed. We have distilled hard patterns from the countless measuring data which form the basis for growth models. Depending on the ultimate objective we combine these growth models with our calculation modules for energy for example, for labour, for market influences etc. This means large quantities of operational, tactical and strategic options can be calculated. We find out what is possible and what is not, obtaining insight into causes and consequences. In brief: it is possible to make well-considered and really responsible choices.
Another hard facts question:
The investments in such a system, do you get a return on them quickly?
Our answer is simple: we only build a Plant Production Unit once we have demonstrated economic feasibility. Investments in buildings per cultivation layer – assuming multilayer cultivation – are sometimes less than investments in greenhouses. LED systems are still costly but this price will drop once more demand arises. Performances of current LED lighting are improving according to the Law of Moore: every 18 to 24 months the output doubles (read: energy need is halved). See also Heitz’s Law.
In current greenhouses we possibly use 9% of the photosynthesis potential of a chloroplast. We are also not able to realise a good connection between the cultivated product and demand from the market. In particular the interaction with the outdoor climate, sunlight, temperature, wind, means that the greenhouse climate is continually disturbed and a grower using a climate computer attempts to restrict the damage from climate disruptions. The limits of what is feasible in a greenhouse have pretty much been reached: there is always something that is wrong: light, moisture, temperature, CO2, etc. In our Plant Production Units we will score better by better managing the logistical processes around a chloroplast: by optimum supply of water and nutrients and with optimum output of water and dry matter – in combination with the right colours of light – we achieve more than 9% utilisation of the chlorophyll potential; maybe 12% or 15% or even 18%; the latter means doubling production. This means we are able to produce ‘just-in-time’ exactly what the market is asking for.
In brief: the investments are still high now, in particular caused by the current price of the LED systems. Input costs are still high due to the unfavourable conversion of electricity to light. But the future looks good: LEDs are becoming cheaper, LED performances are improving fast and in combination with the management of micro-logistics for chloroplasts this will lead to a clear production increase. In 10 to 20 years energy may well no longer be a restrictive factor. The availability of water will then be determinant. Our multilayer Plant Production Units use a maximum of 10% of the amount of water of current cultivation methods. There is mainly famine in countries with a lot of sunlight and little water. Sunlight conversion into electricity is becoming increasingly better. No solutions have been thought of for a shortage of water. The only way is careful use of water. That is what we do.