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[Article] The Future of Indoor Vertical Farming

[Article] The Future of Indoor Vertical Farming

The future of indoor vertical farming looks bright, as this innovative method of growing crops continues to gain popularity and develop new technologies. Indoor vertical farming offers numerous benefits over traditional outdoor farming methods, including the ability to grow crops in urban areas, reduced water usage, and the ability to grow a wider variety of crops. As the world's population continues to grow and urbanization increases, the demand for fresh, local produce will only continue to rise, making indoor vertical farming an increasingly important part of the global food system.

One of the key developments that will shape the future of indoor vertical farming is the increased use of automation and data analytics. As indoor vertical farms become larger and more complex, automation will play a crucial role in managing and optimizing the growing process. For example, sensors and other technologies will be used to monitor and control factors such as temperature, humidity, and lighting, allowing for precise control over the growing environment. Data analytics will also be used to analyze vast amounts of data collected from sensors and other sources, helping farmers to make more informed decisions and improve their operations.

 

 

Another important factor that will shape the future of indoor vertical farming is food security. As the global population continues to grow, there will be increasing pressure on the world's food supply, and indoor vertical farming will play a crucial role in meeting this demand. Indoor vertical farms can produce fresh, healthy food even in areas where traditional outdoor farming is not possible, such as in cities and other urban areas. This will help to ensure that people have access to the food they need, even in regions where outdoor farming is not feasible.

 

 

 

The future of indoor vertical farming will also be shaped by advances in lighting technology. As we continue to develop new and more efficient lighting systems, indoor vertical farmers will be able to grow more diverse and nutritious crops, even in areas where sunlight is limited. For example, new LED lighting systems will allow farmers to simulate the natural light spectrum, providing plants with the specific wavelengths of light they need to thrive. This will help to improve crop yields and reduce the energy consumption of indoor vertical farms.

 

 

Finally, the future of indoor vertical farming will be influenced by advances in our understanding of plant biology and agriculture. As we continue to learn more about how plants grow and thrive, we will be able to develop new growing techniques and strategies that will allow us to grow even more diverse and nutritious crops in indoor vertical farms. This will help to further improve the sustainability and efficiency of indoor vertical farming, and will allow us to produce even more healthy, delicious food for people around the world.

Overall, the future of indoor vertical farming looks bright and full of promise. As technology continues to advance and our understanding of plant biology grows, indoor vertical farming will become an even more important part of the global food system, helping to feed a growing population and provide access to fresh, healthy produce in urban areas.

 

The contents of this article is generated by AI

  • ChatGPT & DALL·E 2
[Research] The Effect of Water Temperature on Plant Growth

[Research] The Effect of Water Temperature on Plant Growth

Introduction

The growth and development of plants can be influenced by water temperature in hydroponic cultivation. The physiological process of plants will be affected by the plant metabolic activities such as phenolic compounds, nutrient uptake, chlorophyll pigment formation, and photosynthesis. (Nxawe et al., 2011). The main function of plant roots is to absorb water and nutrients from the growing medium and later conduct them to the stem of the plant. Thus, besides electrical conductivity value, pH value and environment temperature, regulating water temperature is a crucial part in hydroponic cultivation because the temperature in the root zone may make a notable difference in plant growth.

  • Lee Shen Ni (UPM)
[Article] Urban Farming in Malaysia

[Article] Urban Farming in Malaysia

Urban Farming in Malaysia

 

Urban farming is becoming more popular in the agricultural field nowadays, plenty of groups and entrepreneurs started venturing into it in the agriculture market to seek more potential. What is so special about urban farming till it gains greater interest from the community over the year, let us learn about it!
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Urban farming is defined as farming activities that mainly occur in a community located in a city or highly populated urban areas. It involves farming activities such as the production, processing, marketing, and delivery of farming products from farms to the hand of consumers. Urban farms are able to create better food security for the community whereas it focuses on improving food access, food transportation and food quality. On other hand, urban farms have become one of the solutions to solve food accessibility issues and the challenges of long and complex supply chain structures in serving fresh food production to high populated consumers. Thus, urban farms play a crucial role in maintaining food security globally, it is important to utilise spaces in which land spaces are more limited over the year. Second, it is important to let consumers have easier access to fresh food by reducing the intermediaries and reducing nutrient deterioration and food damage during transportation. Besides that, it is important because urban farms require less use of industrial chemicals and more practicing organic farming, the food production is safer to be eaten. Last but not least, it is important because urban farms are more toward technological innovations compared to traditional farming, which reduces farmers' burden and increases productivity in food production.
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There are different types of urban farms that you can usually see in Malaysia.
  • Backyard gardens
  • Street landscaping
  • Greenhouses
  • Rooftop gardens
  • Green walls
  • Hydroponic
  • Aquaponics  
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Excited to know more about urban farm culture in Malaysia?
Let me introduce these 10 notable urban farms in Malaysia with their own unique specialties.
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1. Cultiveat
Image source from Cultiveat/Facebook  
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Size
1 acre of land
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Location
20, Jalan PJS 11/18, Bandar Sunway, 47500 Subang Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia.
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Cultiveat was established by Mr.John-Hans Oei in 2019. It is practicing sustainable precision farming on its farm. The farm is built with indoor protection to protect their vegetable crops from pests, which make their vegetables free from pesticides. A few advanced technologies have been used in this precise farm such as the auto watering system, sensors and automated roof panels. The technologies automatically regulate the light, humidity, temperature and water levels in the farm, which is able to help vegetables grow better in control. As for the production, Cultiveat plants its seedlings in a pot called cartridge. The specially designed cartridge enables seedlings to hold the exact amount of nutrients needed for optimal growth and it can biodegrade within 3 years. The fresh vegetables in the cartridge will be delivered to you as live plants.
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Find it more at
Official Website : Cultiveat
Facebook : Cultiveat
Instagram : Cultiveat
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2. Vegetable Co.
Image source from Vegetable Co./Facebook
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Size
320 square feet of land
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Location
Parking lot along roadside in Kuala Lumpur
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Vegetable Co. set up its farm in a 320 square foot old shipping container. It has limited space for farming, but this small farm is full of modern technologies. The inside view of the shipping container has hydroponic systems that are stacked vertically and there are some greens coiling around the wall-mounted trellises. The farmers are practicing modern indoor farming techniques to grow pesticide-free vegetables, they effectively use the Internet of Things (IoT) and automation in vegetable production. For instance, the FutureFarmsOS system in farms is able to control all the variables of plant growth during production which allows vegetables to grow in optimal quality. Meanwhile, Vegetables Co. also utilised renewable energy to cover partial power supply in farms. This modern farm can definitely say that it is one of the best tech-based indoor farms in Malaysia.
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Find it more at
Official Website : The Vegetable Co.
Facebook : The Vegetable Co.
Instagram : thevegetable.co 
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3. Kebun-Kebun Bangsar (Veggie Farm)
Image source from Kebun-Kebun Bangsar/Facebook
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Size
2.5 acres of land
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Location
Lorong Bukit Pantai, Bangsar, 59100 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
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Kebun-Kebun Bangsar is founded by Mr. Ng Sek Sen, who is a landscape architect. This place gives you a beautiful view of the KL skyline because it sits on a hill in a residential area. Many nearby residents come here for a calm relaxation from the hustle and bustle. It is an urban community farm that plants plenty of crops and rears free-range animals. Besides walking in the garden, you are also allowed to interact and feed the animals there. The harvested crops in the farm will be donated to soup kitchens and the underprivileged in the city. There are also various family-friendly programmes often held here for the community such as the sustainable farmer market for selling the fresh produce in the garden and the weekly workshops. Almost everything in Kebun-Kebun Bangsar is taken care of by the volunteers, you can join them as a volunteer if you are looking to help with the garden.
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Find it more at
Facebook : Kebun-Kebun Bangsar
Instagram : kebunkebunbangsar
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4. E-Farm
Image source from E-Farm/Facebook & website
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Size
1,000 square feet
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Location
2, Jalan Damai Rasa 1, The Corner @ Alam Damai, 56000 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
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E-Farm is an aquaponics commercial farm that was established by Sean Lee and Eddie Soong. This big-scale aquaponics farm before is just a basic DIY aquaponic system that works as the founders’ hobby. They turn their hobby into commercial use after they feel motivated to produce chemical-free crops for the community around them. The greenhouse of E-Farm has 120 vertical towers in its aquaponics system, each tower will hold 90 plants, the whole farm is growing over 11,000 crops including leafy greens, hardy vegetables and herbs. The crops are grown in clay balls and cocopeat medium which help to maintain cleanliness and prevent crops diseases. There are also about 1,000 clean and chemical-free red tilapia that can be produced in its aquaponics system. Furthermore, the founders had developed an e-grocery to sell all their fresh products, you can just simply order from the e-grocery and wait for their delivery. Besides getting fresh produce via online order, you can also have a visit to the farm to harvest some fresh vegetables directly.
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Find it more at
Official Website : E-Farm
Facebook : E-Farm
Instagram : efarm._
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5. Babylon Vertical Farm
Image source from Babylon Vertical Farm/Facebook
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Location
H-P-1, Level PH, 12, Jalan PJU 5/1 Encorp Strand Garden Offices, Kota Damansara, 47810 Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia.
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Babylon Vertical Farm uses an indoor hydroponics farming method to grow leafy greens on its farm. It was founded in 2016 by Stuart Thomas and this farm is a social enterprise accelerator under the Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre (MaGIC). Babylon Vertical Farm runs a B2B farm, it mainly produces pest-free vegetables and herbs to supply to its business clients such as restaurants and supermarkets. It also grows microgreens for sales, the microgreens gain a great demand from the high-end restaurant. The founder and his team could see the potential in the microgreens business. Therefore, they feel the desire to increase the microgreens production, which is from 1,000 kg a month to 2,00-3,000 kg a month. Now, they have proved that they gain more business profit with the microgreens production. Besides fresh production, Babylon Vertical Farm also provides consulting and farm building services to the public who are interested in urban farming.
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Find it more at
Official Website : Babylon Vertical Farms
Facebook : BVFMalaysia
Instagram : bvfmicrogreens
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6. Boomgrow Farm
Image source from BoomGrow/Facebook & e27
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Size
40 feet of land
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Location
Unit 1-2, Level 1, Office Block, Pusat Kreatif Kanak-Kanak Tuanku Bainun, 48 Jalan Tun Mohd Fuad, Taman Tun Dr Ismail, 60000 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
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BoomGrow Farm is a tech-driven indoor urban farm that was built in repurposed shipping containers by efforts of the founders, Jay, K Muralidesan and Shan Palani. It has 2 farms and each is located in Kuala Lumpur and Langkawi. These 5G showcase farms enable IoT to grow clean greens in a controlled and precise farming environment. The farmers there rely on machine learning and data analytics to tailor each input such as the temperature, humidity and light level to the respective plant to produce greens that have a tastier flavor. Moreover, the greens are grown with zero pesticides, herbicides or any preserving chemicals and nitrate accumulation in plant tissues wasn't an issue for their production. You can find a variety of types of greens on the farm, among them will have lettuces, kale, swiss chard, basil, and mints. Besides demand from the community around, BoomGrow also caters its greens to hotels and restaurants.
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Find it more at
Official Website : BoomGrow Farms
Facebook : BoomGrow
Instagram : boomgrow
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7. Sunway XFarms
Image source from Sunway XFarm/Facebook
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Size
50,000 square feet of land
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Location
Duplex, Jalan PJS 11/26, Bandar Sunway, 47500 Subang Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia.
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Sunway XFarms was launched by Sunway Group in the heart of Sunway City KL. It has an outdoor hydroponic greenhouse, an indoor vertical farm and two aquaponic farms. The farm is using IoT to have efficient plant management to grow pesticide and herbicide-free crops such as Asian greens, herbs and microgreens. Every crop from the farm is safe to eat because it has obtained MyGap and MyFood certification for urban farming, which means the farm is following strict farming procedures to produce organic crops. Sunway XFarms has launched a Grower (Growing and Owning) model to allow anyone who wants to grow their own fresh produce but lacks the space and time to manage it. The farmers there will help you to manage your small farm plot from the planting until the harvesting process, you can simply have vegetable supplies weekly by subscribing to the model. Furthermore, Sunway XFarms also working with the Agriculture and Food Industries Ministry put effort into conducting workshops and selling various farming kits and systems to the public.
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Find it more at
Official Website : Sunway XFarms
Facebook : Sunway XFarms
Instagram : sunway farms
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8. Vegetory
Image source from Vegetory/Facebook
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Location
No 28, Jalan Suria Puchong 4, pusat perniagaan suria puchong, Puchong Gateway, 47110 Puchong, Selangor
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Vegetory uses the Plant Factory Indoor Farming (PFIF) concept to grow leafy greens in the city, it was founded in 2016 by Roy Liew and Celleste Kok. This plant factory grows leafy greens hydroponically in a controlled indoor environment. One of its famous in-store farms' outlets is in Bangsar Shopping Centre, you can notice that the in-store farm has a laboratory-like interior with LED light. They built a modular farm system in grocery stores to allow customers to walk in to pick the produce themselves freshly there. Besides providing a transparent purchasing process, customers are also able to enjoy the harvest process. Vegetory mainly produces lettuces such as mizuna, crisphead, red oak and romaine, there is also kale and rocket salad grown in the plant factory. Salad lovers definitely will love to bring some greens from here to their bowl.  Moreover, Mori Kohi, a farm-to-table cafe opened by Vegetory, serves Western-style Japanese dishes that use fresh greens from the plant factory as the ingredients. You can taste the delicious and nutritious meal with the freshest vegetable supply at the cafe.
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Find it more at
Official Website : vegetory
Facebook : Vegetory
Instagram : vegetory
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9. Farmy Vertical Farms
Image source from Farmy Vertical Farms/Facebook & website
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Size
1200 square feet of land
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Location
Lot S33, Encorp Strand Mall, Jalan PJU 5/22, Kota Damansara, 47810 Petaling Jaya, Selangor.
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Farmy Vertical Farm was founded by Shoma Tsubota. It is an urban farm that was built in a shopping mall. The exterior of the farm is surrounded by a wall and it has a window to let the public view the indoor farming process. It has an 18 feet height vertical farm with 5 growing racks, each rack containing 7 layers of growing spaces for the vegetables. The vegetables are grown in an indoor hydroponics system with customised LED growth lights as the light source for the plant, thus the farmers are able to eliminate the risks such as unpredictable weather, pests problems and plant diseases during the farming process. They are also using an auto-dosing system with IoT and sensors to efficiently manage the irrigation system, it controls the electrical conductivity and ph level of fertiliser water always at an ideal level in the farm. With the effort of the farmers there and the technologies, this farm can produce about 1.5 tonnes of leafy vegetables every month. The examples of fresh greens produced by Farmy Vertical Farm include kale, basil, mustard, wasabi salad, bok choy and microgreens, and all of them are pesticide and herbicide-free to eat.
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Find it more at
Official Website : Farmy : Vertical Farm Malaysia
Facebook : Farmy
Instagram : farmy.my
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10. Agroz
Image source from Agroz/Facebook, digitalnewsasia & soyacincau
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Size
10,000 square feet
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Location    
Mines 2 Outdoor Car Park South KL, Jalan Mines 2, Mines Wellness City, 43300 Seri Kembangan, Selangor. 
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Agroz runs various commercial indoor vertical farms in high populated urban spaces. It has a motive "Farm to Fork in minutes"  in which each farm will be placed within 30 minutes to reach consumers. Currently, Agroz has successfully run 3 different sizes of smart indoor vertical farms in Selangor. It owns a small farm in Seri Kembangan where the greens are growing in modified shipping containers. There is a 3,000 square feet warehouse farm in Sungai Buloh and a 90,000 square feet commercial indoor farm in Shah Alam. These smart farms are using future technologies to grow the greens such as IoT, AI, machine learning, data analytics and blockchain. We can know that Agroz is practicing sustainable and modern precision agriculture through its smart indoor vertical farms. Gerard Lim, the founder and CEO of Agroz Group said that Agroz ambitiously aims to scale up the smart indoor vertical farm to 10,000 square feet of space to produce 3 tonnes of fresh vegetables monthly to serve consumers nearby. As for the distribution of fresh produce, Agroz is sold directly to consumers through subscription programmes and it is also supplied to grocers, restaurants and the hospitality industry around the farm area.
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Find it more at
Official Website : Agroz Group
Facebook : Agroz Group
Instagram : agrozgroup    
  • Lee Shen Ni (UPM)
[Research] Effects of Photoperiodism on Plant Growth

[Research] Effects of Photoperiodism on Plant Growth

[Research] Effects of Photoperiodism on plant growth (single 12 hours session vs multiple sessions cumulatively 12 hours)

 

Introduction

        Following the increasing interest in urban farming and hydroponics, many users are slowly looking to grow their own food with household farming setups. For these urban farmers, not all of them have sufficient outdoor spaces that provide sufficient natural sunlight to the plants, instead, they look towards artificial horticulture growlights as a substitute. In comparison, as natural sunlight is much stronger, plants only require approximately 8 hours of sunlight per day for healthy growth, whereas for artificial lighting, it is recommended that these indoor setups are exposed to at least 10 to 14 hours of lighting per day to achieve similar growth results (D’anna, 2021).

 

        However, the usual concern with the statement above is related to none other than the expensive electricity costs that accompany the long hours of turning on the growlights. Additionally, following the Enchanced Time of Use (ETOU) tariff scheme launched by TNB which offers different tariff rates at different times of the day, urban farmers have a better chance at evaluating and reducing their operational costs while growing their passion (Tenaga Nasional Berhad, n.d.).

 

        As seen below, Figure 1 shows the exact timing of the time zones for Peak, Mid-Peak and Off-Peak on weekdays, while Figure 2 shows the different charges for these respective time zones. Subsequently, the lighting requirement for indoor hydroponic farming can be carefully planned according to this information to achieve maximum energy savings without affecting the plant growth. This experiment is carried out to observe the practicality of splitting the lighting requirement for indoor plants into shorter periods, so that these plants have the same cumulative amount of lights across the day instead of a consecutive lighting for 10 hours a day to fit into the Off-Peak time zones. Thus, it is hypothesised that if the plants receive the same cumulative amount of lighting per day (despite splitting it into shorter, separate periods), the plants would have a similar growth rate.

Figure 1. TNB Enhanced Time of Use (ETOU) time zones

Figure 2. ETOU rate for different categories

 

Materials

  • Digital Timers x 2

https://cityfarm.my/products/timer 

  • 4ft 2”x4” NFT Channels x 4

https://cityfarm.my/products/4-feet-120-cm-nft-channel 

  • Kintons 101 5W Pump

https://cityfarm.my/products/kintons-101-pump-5watt-1m-800l-h 

  • Hanna Instruments GroLine Monitor for Hydroponic Nutrients HI981420

https://cityfarm.my/products/groline-monitor-for-hydroponic-nutrients 

  • A & B Liquid Fertiliser for Leafy Greens

https://cityfarm.my/products/hydroponics-fertilizer 

  • 4ft Cityfarm Horticulture Full Spectrum T8 Growlights (Pin Connection)

https://cityfarm.my/products/new-2020-model-samsung-led-diodes-4-feet-cityfarm-horticulture-full-spectrum-led-t8-tube 

 

Types of Vegetable Used

  • Romaine Lettuce (germinated on 15/9)
  • Half-Red Amaranth (germinated on 18/9)
  • Hong Kong CaiXin (germinated on 18/9)
  • Thai Basil (germinated on 11/9)

 

Methodology

 

        This experiment started on the 29th of September and ended on the 30th of October. It was conducted in a City Vertical Farm M (Figure 3), which consists of 2 layers. The top layer was set up as the control plants, which the timer for the growlights were set to run for 12 consecutive hours every day from 6am to 6pm. On the other hand, the bottom layer was the experimental layer where the plants in this layer were exposed to 3 different sessions of 4-hour-period lighting throughout the day, these periods are 6am - 10am, 12pm - 4pm as well as 6pm - 10pm. It is important to note that both setups are still exposed to 12 hours of light per day.

 

Each layer holds two 4ft NFT channels which provide a total capacity of 32 plants for the experiment, 4 seedlings from each vegetable type were placed within the NFT channels as seen below in Figure 2. Aside from the lighting alterations made for the experiment, the remaining setup for the Vertical Farm M is identical to the usual hydroponic practices. The EC readings for the water tank was measured and maintained daily between 1.2 - 1.4 mS/cm, while the pH levels of the water was maintained above 5.5 to ensure the healthy growth for the plants.

 

Additionally, pictures of the plants were taken every 3 days from the start of the experiment to help visualise the differences between both setups as well as the differences between the locations of each plant within the same setup (due to the slight differences of light exposure from the plants’ positions). At the end of the experiment, the plant growth was measured using the fresh weight of the full plant after the harvest period, the mean weight of the plants were used to compare between both setups.

 

Figure 3. A 3D computer generated model of City Vertical Farm M

 

 

 

 

 

 

Results

Table 1. Post-experiment Fresh Weight Measurements

Plant Types

 

Weight of Plants (kg)

Mean Weight (kg)

Half Red Amaranth

Control

0.04

0.051

0.046

0.053

0.065

Experiment

0.014

0.027

0.028

0.034

0.032

Hong Kong Caixin

Control

0.015

0.0213

0.021

0.03

0.019

Experiment

0.012

0.019

0.018

0.021

0.023

Romaine Lettuce

Control

0.085

0.068

0.07

-

0.05

Experiment

0.081

0.07

0.084

0.075

0.041

Thai Basil

Control

0.057

0.057

0.069

0.064

0.036

Experiment

0.03

0.042

0.055

0.047

0.035

 

 

        As mentioned above, pictures of the plants were taken throughout the experiment, as there were a lot of pictures from the experiment, only the pictures from Day 1, Day 14, and Day 30 will be shown below to help visualise the differences of the plants.

 

Half Red Amaranth

 

 Day 1 Control                                                 Day 1 Experimental

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

Day 14 Control                                                 Day 14 Experimental

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 30 Control                                                  Day 30 Experimental

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hong Kong Caixin

 

 Day 1 Control                                                 Day 1 Experimental

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 14 Control                                                Day 14 Experimental

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 30 Control                                             Day 30 Experimental

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Romaine Lettuce

 

Day 1 Control                                                    Day 1 Experimental

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 14 Control                                                    Day 14 Experimental

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 30 Control                                                 Day 30 Experimental

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thai Basil

 

 Day 1 Control                                                  Day 1 Experimental

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 14 Control                                                      Day 14 Experimental

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 30 Control                                                         Day 30 Experimental

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Discussion

 

Photoperiodism, otherwise defined as the physiological reaction of organisms to the length of the dark period, is one of the most researched topics on both animals and plants. For plants, photoperiodism is particularly important as certain plant species require a specific duration of dark period in order to achieve their flowering and fruiting process.

        

        In this experiment, it is observed that all control plants (aside from the Romaine Lettuce) grew slightly better when compared to its experimental counterparts. For the experimental plants, there is clear evidence of stem elongation throughout the growing phase, as seen in the pictures above. This is particularly visible for the Thai Basil as well as the Half-Red Amaranth plants. However, there were also slight differences between the experimental samples as some of the plants may not have received sufficient lighting due to its positioning in the NFT channels (especially around the edges of the NFT channels where the plants were not directly exposed to the lighting, which led to poor growth and stem elongation.

 

Additionally, it is also noted that most of the control plants managed to accumulate a higher biomass. Aside from the Romaine lettuces which showed little to no differences among the two setups, the remaining plant species recorded visible average weight differences. It is also important to note that there were cases of pest infestations during the experiment, which severely affected the Hong Kong Caixin plants. While immediate pest management measures were immediately taken once the issue was spotted, the end result still showed poor growth for both the control and experimental setups.

        In a similar study conducted by Folta in 2019, the team experimented on ways to reduce energy requirements for farming in controlled environments. Rather than setting multiple 4-hour sessions of lighting, they experimented on various light-dark cycles, ranging from hours to seconds. Unfortunately, most of the longer cycles (6 hours, 3 hours, 1 hour, 30 minutes) showed that the plants grew as if they were in a light-deficient environment, thus the stems elongated to search for an alternative light source. However, when they further reduced the duration of light-dark cycles to approximately 5-20 seconds, the seedlings grew as if they had received 12 hours of regular lighting.

 

        In conclusion, while the findings by Folta correspond to the findings in this experiment, it seems that it is difficult for everyday users or hobbyists to be able to tackle the energy cost without sufficient access to technology to alter the lighting cycles without affecting plant growth. As of now, in order to save on energy costs for indoor farms, the only method now would be to operate these farms during off-peak hours.

 

 

 

 

 

 

References

D’anna, C. (2021). The Basics of Hydroponic Lighting. Retrieved from https://www.thespruce.com/hydroponic-lighting-basics-1939224 

Folta, K. (2019). Micro-naps for plants: Flicking the lights on and off can save energy without hurting indoor plants. Retrieved from https://explore.research.ufl.edu/micro-naps-for-plants-flicking-the-lights-on-and-off-can-save-energy-without-hurting-indoor-agriculture-harvests.html 

Tenaga Nasional Berhad (n.d.). TNB Enhanced Time of Use (ETOU). Retrieved from https://www.tnb.com.my/faq/etou/ 

 

 

 

 

  • Bryan Chan (Queensland University of Technology)
[Article] Get to know your lettuce!

[Article] Get to know your lettuce!

Lettuce Categories

Cos lettuce

Cos lettuce

Also known as Romaine lettuce, it is medium to large in size and is believed to be one of the oldest varieties in the world. Its physical characteristics are elongated and stiff, with leaves averaging about 10-15cm in length and having a firm rib that runs down the centre. With red and green varieties, the intensity of the colours is strongest at the tip, displaying a dark red or green colour that fades into a near-white colour at the base of the leaf. The taste and texture of Cos lettuce are described as crisp, succulent, and crunchy with a mildly bitter taste.


Growing

Sunlight

Full/partial sun

Temperature

<34°C, excess heat can cause bolting

pH

pH 6.2 - pH 6.8

Duration

55 days


Butterhead lettuce

Butterhead lettuce

Also known as Boston or Bibb lettuce, it is a medium sized lettuce. Its physical characteristics are short and attractively rose-like, with leaves averaging to about 10cm in length. With red and green varieties, the intensity of the colours is achievable with strong lighting. Red varieties are a blend of red, purple, and burgundy that slowly fade green at the base, whereas green varieties are intensely coloured that stays consistent from tip to base. The leaves are described as soft, loose, wavy, and wide growing in a rosette fashion, with taste and texture being described as lightly sweet and tender.


Growing

Sunlight

Full/partial sun

Temperature

<32°C, excess heat can cause bolting or melting

pH

pH 6.2 - pH 6.8

Duration

50 days


Lolla

Lolla

Lolla lettuce, also known as coral lettuce, is a medium to large sized lettuce that is one of the most common lettuce seen in stores. Its physical characteristics are that it has extremely dense, soft, and wavy leaf tips, while having firm and fleshy ribs. It comes in red and green varieties, Lolla rossa and Lolla bionda respectively, that are intensely coloured. The taste is mild and texture is described to be smooth, crunchy, and light.


Growing

Sunlight

Full/partial sun

Temperature

<30°C, excess heat can cause bolting or melting

pH

pH 6.2 - pH 6.8

Duration

55 days


Oakleaf

 

Oak leaf lettuce

Oakleaf lettuce is a type of looseleaf lettuce that does not form a compact head that grows large in size. As the category suggests, its physical characteristic is a loose, bushy bunch that extends out from a narrow base. Its leaves are described to be hook-shaped, tender, broad, and curled that are fragile and tear easily. Oakleaf comes in two colour varieties, red and green, with both colours not being very intense even when exposed to strong lighting. It’s taste is described to be nutty and mildly bitter or sweet depending on the variety.


Growing

Sunlight

Full/partial sun

Temperature

<30°C, excess heat can cause bolting or melting

pH

pH 6.2 - pH 6.8

Duration

50 days


Batavia

Batavia Lettuce

Batavia is a more heat tolerant lettuce that grows to a medium or large size. Its physical characteristics is a wide, wavy and dense leaf arrangement at the top that stems from a small base. As mentioned, its leaves grow out from the centre point at the bottom, spreading out large and having wavy tips. The intensity of the waves are dependent on the variety. Like other lettuces, Batavia comes in both red and green varieties. Red varieties are usually only red at the tips, with visible transitions to green 2-3cm from the tip. Its taste and texture is described to be earthy and smooth.


Growing

Sunlight

Full/partial sun

Temperature

<35°C, excess heat can cause bolting or melting

pH

pH 6.2 - pH 6.8

Duration

50 days


Special Varieties

Salatrio

Salatrio Lettuce

Salatrio lettuce is not a specific variety of lettuce, but a special combination of three different lettuce varieties in one pot. Rijk Zwaan, one of the industry leaders in vegetable breeding, has specially selected combinations that grow well together. In total, there are 12 different combinations available worldwide. 


Eazyleaf

Eazyleaf lettuce

Eazyleaf is a category of lettuce varieties produced by Enza Zaden. The main attraction of these varieties is its ease of preparation. Eazyleaf plants are specially made for a one-cut preparation that will split the vegetable into many, equally sized leaves. These varieties are highly suitable for food processing and commercial use, where automation is common and operations are time sensitive.


Salanova

Salanova lettuce

Salanova is a category of lettuce varieties produced by Rijk Zwaan. Varieties under the Salanova product line are specially produced for use in hydroponic systems, providing better taste, quality, and production. Benefits include 40% more yield, improved taste and texture, and increased shelf life. 


Types of Seeds

Unpelleted

Seeds

Unpelleted seeds are your typical seeds you would buy or collect. These seeds have not been processed after harvest and come in its original shape and for, therefore managing these seeds may be a challenge, especially with machinery.


Pelleted

Pelleted seeds

Pelleted seeds are coated to make them round, smooth, and uniform. This is done so that commercial growers can handle them easier. Certain plants produce very small seeds, and a commercial farmer may find it difficult to manage them at a small size. By coating them, all seeds are equal in size and round. This is especially useful when being used with machinery, such as a mechanical seeder.

  • Tan Koon Hong (UCSI University)
[Research] Effects of Dissolved Oxygen (DO) on the Growth of Lollo Rossa in NFT Hydroponic System

[Research] Effects of Dissolved Oxygen (DO) on the Growth of Lollo Rossa in NFT Hydroponic System

The Effect of Dissolved Oxygen on the Growth of Lollo Rossa in Nutrient Film Technique (NFT) Hydroponic System

Objectives:

  • To study the effect of dissolved oxygen on the growth of Lollo Rossa (red coral lettuce).
  • To examine the level of dissolved oxygen in nutrient solution with and without aeration system.

Introduction:

Plant growth and development are closely associated with the environmental conditions and nutrient supply. Similarly, hydroponic systems are also mainly dependent on three key factors which are the electrical conductivity (EC), pH and dissolved oxygen level of the nutrient solution. In NFT hydroponic systems, plants are grown in pots sitting in channels whereby the lower part of the root system is immersed in a thin film and constant passing flow of nutrient solution. Hence, the healthy root growth has become an important determinant of both plant growth and yield.
Dissolved oxygen (DO) acts as the life force for plants by promoting healthy root development and maximizing nutrient uptake in plants. According to Kubota (2020) , DO is an essential abiotic factor influencing the conditional of root-zone environments by which plants able to develop more finely branched roots with root zones that having higher air porosity. Moreover, sufficient DO levels not only can improve plant quality but also establish an aerobic environment favoring beneficial microorganisms. Conversely, the depletion of DO levels favor harmful anaerobic organisms that cause common root rot diseases, leading to nutrient deficiency and stunted plant growth. Here, this project aims to study the effect of DO on the growth of Lollo Rossa. We also hypothesized that Lollo Rossa samples grown in oxygenated nutrient tank have better plant growth than in control nutrient tank.

Materials:

Modified City Vertical Farm, Lollo Rossa seedlings (3-week old), 4ft CityFarm Horticulture Full Spectrum LED T8 Growlight, hydroponic fertilizers A and B, pH down (food-grade phosphoric acid and water), 4ft 2" x 4" NFT channels, 47 mm net pots, germination sponge cubes, cooling fans, digital DO meter (JPB-70A pen-type intelligent dissolved oxygen analyzer), EC meter (Hanna Instruments HI98304 DiST 4), pH meter (Hanna Instruments HI98107 pHep®), air compressor pump connected with air stones, weighing balance, ruler and measuring cup.

Methods:

The experiment was conducted in a modified City Vertical Farm (Figure 1.0) consisting of two 4ft 2" x 4" NFT channels that connected to the control nutrient tank (blue tank) and oxygenated nutrient tank (grey tank), respectively. Each channel was occupied with eight Lollo Rossa seedlings and was continually supplied with nutrient solution containing hydroponic fertilizer A and B. The farm was also installed with three 4ft CityFarm Horticulture Full Spectrum LED T8 grow lights in which the lighting duration was set to 10 hours in a day, as well as two cooling fans were installed to facilitate ventilation of the farm.
Figure 1.0: The setup of modified City Vertical Farm.
The NFT channels were connected to the control nutrient tank (blue tank) and oxygenated nutrient tank (grey tank), respectively.
In the oxygenated nutrient tank, the nutrient solution was constantly oxygenated throughout the experiment by installing an air compressor pump connected with multiple air stones, as well as the outlet pipe was situated above the water surface to enhance gas exchange rate. On the other hand, the outlet pipe in control nutrient tank was designed to be immersed into the nutrient solution as to limit the flow rate, minimizing the surface agitation in the tank. The concentration of nutrient solution was increased from 1.4 to 1.7 mS/cm, according to the plant growth whereas the pH value was varied within the range of 6.0 to 6.7. Besides, the DO level and temperature in oxygenated nutrient tank was maintained within the range of 7.4 to 7.2 mg/L and 27.5 to 27.8 ℃; in control nutrient tank was kept between the range of 4.7 to 4.9 mg/L and 28.0 to 28.3 ℃, respectively. Furthermore, the plant growth was measured by recording the fresh weight, plant height and number of leaves every interval of five days. Additionally, the root and shoot mass were also recorded as the final measurement upon harvesting on Day 52 since seed germination. A statistical hypothesis test, pooled t-test was also carried out to further verify the effect of DO on the final root and shoot mass of the samples.
Figure 2.0: Lollo Rossa stages of development.
Lollo Rossa samples of (a) 5 days, (b) 15 days and (c) 25 days after transplantation into NFT system.

Results:

Table 1.0: Average experimental conditions of oxygenated and control nutrient tank

Tank

Average experimental conditions

EC (mS/cm)

pH

DO (mg/L)

Temperature (℃)

Oxygenated

1.52

6.4

7.3

27.6

Control

1.45

6.4

4.8

28.2

 

Table 2.0: Final root and shoot mass of Lollo Rossa samples

Sample

Oxygenated tank

Control tank

Root mass (g)

Shoot mass (g)

Root mass (g)

Shoot mass (g)

1

27

69

23

67

2

29

90

24

56

3

35

114

30

80

4

32

101

30

90

5

30

109

29

83

6

32

118

32

103

7

34

113

28

80

8

27

71

28

74

Average mass

30.8

98.1

28.0

79.1

Note: Both root and shoot mass of samples included the net pot and water content in the sponge.

 

Table 3.0: Independent sample t-test results of the samples’ final root mass

Group

n

Mean

SD

df

tcal

t0.05

Result

Oxygenated

8

30.75

3.012

14

1.808

1.761

Accept

Control

8

28.00

3.071

14

Note: The alternative hypothesis specifies that the final root mass of oxygenated group is greater than control group. (Significance level, α = 0.05)

*n = Number of samples; SD = Standard deviation; df = Degree of freedom

 

Table 4.0: Independent sample t-test results of the samples’ final shoot mass

Group

n

Mean

SD

df

tcal

t0.05

Result

Oxygenated

8

98.13

19.44

14

2.232

1.761

Accept

Control

8

79.13

14.21

14

Note: The alternative hypothesis specifies that the final shoot mass of oxygenated group is greater than control group. (Significance level, α = 0.05)

*n = Number of samples; SD = Standard deviation; df = Degree of freedom

Figure 3.0: Final shoot mass and root mass of Lollo Rossa samples. 

The (a) shoot and (b) root mass of Lollo Rossa samples collected from oxygenated nutrient tank were greater than (c) shoot and (d) root mass samples from the control.

Figure 4.0: Effect of DO on the growth of Lollo Rossa samples grown in oxygenated and control nutrient tank. 

(a) The DO levels in oxygenated nutrient tank (blue line) was practically constant at 7.4 mg/L, whereas the DO levels in control nutrient tank (orange line) remained constant at 4.8 mg/L. The (b) average of plant fresh weight, (c) plant height and (d) leaf number of Lollo Rossa samples grown in oxygenated and control nutrient tank throughout the experimental period.

Notes:

1 The fresh weight of samples has included the net pots and water content in the sponge.

2 The height of samples was measured from the base of net pot up to the tip of leaf.

Discussion:

Dissolved oxygen is simply the presence of free oxygen (O2) molecules dissolved in water and is a critical parameter to be optimized in assessing water quality as it indirectly influences any organisms living by the water. Likewise, in horticulture, DO plays important roles in enhancing both plant quality and crop yields. There are two factors which are temperature and salinity greatly influence the DO content in hydroponic system. Between these two factors, DO content is very temperature-dependent as the temperature inversely regulating the solubility of oxygen in water. Generally speaking, cold water can hold more dissolved oxygen than warm water and vice versa (Becker, 2016).

Based on Table 1.0, although the average temperature of the oxygenated nutrient tank is 0.6 ℃ lower than the control nutrient tank, there is a significant difference in the DO level whereby the oxygenated nutrient tank is 2.5 mg/L higher than the control. Due to the presence of air stones and surface agitation in oxygenated nutrient tank, air bubbles were produced and dispersed evenly in the tank, causing a higher rate of gas exchange at water interface and a higher concentration of DO. In term of the average EC value of nutrient solution, oxygenated nutrient tank demonstrated a higher EC value than the control in the end of the experiment as the plants grown in oxygenated nutrient tank had higher transpiration rate than nutrient uptake rate.

Additionally, based upon Table 2.0, Lollo Rossa samples grown in oxygenated nutrient tank had greater average root and shoot mass in compared with the control. By conducting pooled t-test, the results had revealed that both final root and shoot mass of samples grown in oxygenated nutrient tank were significantly greater than the control samples (Table 3 and Table 4). As proof, Suyantohadi, Kyoren, Hariadi, Purnomo, and Morimoto (2010) also elucidated that DO had positively impacted on both plant and root development in which plants grown in nutrient tank with saturated DO displayed better root and shoot characteristics. Besides, as illustrated in Figure 3.0, samples grown in oxygenated nutrient tank were compact and good in shape. Also, the overall root mass of samples grown in oxygenated nutrient tank was visibly denser and longer than the control samples. Thus, high levels of DO largely not only promote healthy root formation but foster plant development process, producing substantial and healthier plants.

Apart from that, Figure 4.0 shown the different effect of DO on plant fresh weight, height and number of leaves. In respect of plant fresh weight, samples harvested from oxygenated nutrient tank had greater weight, as well as the number of leaves was greater than the control samples. As to the average plant height, the control samples were slightly elongated and higher than the samples treated with high DO level. The stem elongation of control samples was likely correlated with high temperature. On account of the exposure to higher temperature, the occurrence of stem elongation in lettuce was facilitated, resulting in loose leaf structure which can be observed in the control samples (Iqbal, 2018). Therefore, temperature can inversely regulate the solubility of oxygen in water and indirectly affect the morphology of plant.

Conclusion:

To conclude, Lollo Rossa samples grown in oxygenated nutrient tank had significantly final root and shoot mass than the control samples. Over and above, the presence of DO has also proven to improve both plant growth development and characteristics with respect to fresh weight, height and leaf number. More importantly, DO is temperature-dependent and serves as a basic measurement to be taken in consideration for horticulture, optimizing both root and plant development. In the future, an extensive amount of research is required to intensify the understanding of the mechanism involving DO levels against both root and plant development.

References

Becker, K. (2016). Understanding dissolved oxygen. Retrieved from

https://www.growertalks.com/Article/?articleid=22058

Iqbal, Q. (2018). Effect of high temperature and exposure duration on stem elongation of iceberg lettuce. Pakistan Journal of Agricultural Sciences, 55, 95-101. doi:10.21162/PAKJAS/18.6554

Kubota, C. (2020). Chapter 13 - Growth, development, transpiration, and translocation as affected by abiotic environmental factors. In T. Kozai, G. Niu, & M. Takagaki (Eds.), Plant Factory (Second Edition) (pp. 207-220): Academic Press.

Suyantohadi, A., Kyoren, T., Hariadi, M., Purnomo, M. H., & Morimoto, T. (2010). Effect of high consentrated dissolved oxygen on the plant growth in a deep hydroponic culture under a low temperature. IFAC Proceedings Volumes, 43(26), 251-255. doi:https://doi.org/10.3182/20101206-3-JP-3009.00044

  • Clara Pang (International University of Malaya-Wales)