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Potential and Challenges of 3 Types of High-value Crops in Vertical Farming 

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Vertical farming is venturing into new frontiers with crops like saffron, vanilla, and medicinal herbs. While the future holds promise for cultivating these high-value aromatic crops in vertical farms, there are challenges that need to be addressed. In this article, we’ll explore the potential and hurdles associated with growing saffron, vanilla, and medicinal herbs in vertical farming, shedding light on the pioneering endeavours along the way.

grow lights for vertical gardens

Saffron is worth more than gold in terms of weight. Clearly a profitable plant, but what potential does it have for vertical farming? Studies have shown that light quality can influence the flowering of saffron. Valoya offers several spectra to enhance flowering responses in plants. For free consultation and light plan, contact sales@greenlux.com

1. Saffron: The Delicate Golden Spice

Potential:

Saffron is a coveted spice known for its rich flavour and vibrant colour. Vertical farming presents an opportunity to cultivate saffron in a controlled environment, ensuring optimal growth conditions and a more predictable yield throughout the year.

Challenges:

Space and Yield: Saffron requires a significant amount of space to yield a substantial harvest. Vertical farming systems need to efficiently utilize space while ensuring a profitable yield.

Lighting: Saffron needs ample light, and providing this within a vertical farm requires energy-efficient solutions and the correct type of LED grow light and spectrum.

2. Vanilla: Orchid of Delicacy

Potential:

Vanilla, a popular flavouring agent, is sourced from vanilla orchids. Vertical farming offers an opportunity to cultivate vanilla in a controlled environment, ensuring a consistent supply of high-quality vanilla.

Challenges:

Pollination: Vanilla orchids require manual pollination, a labour-intensive task. Achieving efficient and consistent pollination within a vertical farming setup presents a significant challenge.

Support Structure: Vanilla plants need sturdy support structures as they grow upwards. Designing an effective support system within a vertical farm is critical.

Growth time: It can take up to 3 years before a vanilla vine begins flowering, requiring a significant amount of time invested in growing the crop if starting from scratch.

3. Medicinal Herbs: Nature’s Remedies

Potential:

Medicinal herbs like chamomile, echinacea, and lavender are valued for their health benefits. Vertical farming can provide a controlled environment to cultivate these herbs, ensuring a year-round supply of potent and pesticide-free yields.

Challenges:

Nutrient Balance: Medicinal herbs require specific nutrient profiles for optimal growth and potency. Maintaining the right nutrient balance in a vertical farming system can be complex.

Disease Management: Preventing and managing diseases in a densely populated vertical farm, particularly for delicate herbs, poses a challenge that requires precise monitoring and control measures.

Different light plans for different plants: Many medicinal herbs have evolved naturally in different environments, favouring different amounts of sun or shade, therefore requiring different light plans and spectra.

Valoya can provide spectra which are optimised to match the signals of sunlight for plants and the production of secondary metabolite which boost the medicinal properties of plants. Contact us for a free light plan and consultation at sales@greenlux.com.

Which crops make it in the future of vertical farming?  

Through research, technological advancements, and a commitment to sustainable agriculture, companies are pushing the boundaries to make aromatic crops such as saffron and vanilla a feasible and sustainable part of vertical farming. While challenges persist, the promise of aromatic abundance and sustainable cultivation in vertical farms remains a beacon of hope for the future, where fragrance meets precision agriculture.

The blog posts are written by Valoya’s biologists and engineers. All of the content is original and is aimed at helping growers and researchers get a better understanding of the LED grow light technology.

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