Indoor "growth recipe" can better align crops to customer demands - Philips

Philips Lighting says it has succeeded in growing rocket leaves with seven times the usual content of vitamin C, simply by optimising the "growth recipe" at its vertical farming research facility.

Image: HW
Image: HW

The trial, conducted at the electronic giant's GrowWise Research Center in Eindhoven in collaboration with Wageningen University & Research and Maastricht University, showed that other healthy compounds can also be influenced by the recipe, which consists of a range of parameters including the light level, spectrum, intensity, position and time, as well as climate conditions of temperature, humidity, CO2 levels and nutrition.

According to Philips, the approach can help meet the growing demand for functional foods from health-conscious consumers.

Its horticultural lighting business leader Udo van Slooten said: "The results of this trial reveal that not only can we boost the yield of a crop, but we can also influence its taste and growth characteristics of a crop by changing the growth recipe."

He added: "This achievement confirms the tangible benefits that our research at Philips GrowWise Center is delivering for growers and retailers as they look to meet specific consumer needs like optimised smell, taste and flavour to differentiate themselves in their markets."

The crop was tested in four different lighting situations with three different LED lighting combinations and one artificial light source that mimicked the sun and/or HPS lighting. The effects of high blue and high far red wavelengths were also studied to determine their impact on shelf life and nutrient content of the harvested greens.

Besides having a high yield, the optimised rocket crop also showed a very low nitrate level and higher sugar level, rating between 5 and 8 on the Brix index, and a milder taste. Consumers in Poland, Russia and Finland are demanding low-nitrate foods, Philips says, though it adds that high vitamin C levels can also be combined with high nitrate content if required.

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