At iFarm we are constantly working on improvements that make vertical farms even more efficient and allow farm owners to see payoffs sooner. One of such improvements has recently been a germination chamber that provides maximum germinability.
Before the germination chamber came into existence, iFarm agronomists had to sow seeds in trays, cover them with plastic film and place in a germination room where they would sprout in 2 to 5 days. "This technology allowed to see only 85-90% of the seeds germinate, reducing the number of mature plants and, in turn, the profitability of a farm,"— said Pavel Zeeman, Head of the Engineering department, iFarm R&D center.
At industrial facilities with a growing area of 1000 m² or more, germination chambers look like a small-sized room
The germination chamber made almost 100% germinability possible and also allowed to shorten the growth period. According to Nikolay Podvigin — Head of iFarm Agriculture Laboratory — in the chamber arugula sprouts in just 1 day compared with 3 days under film, Romaine — 2 days against 3, spinach — 3 days against 5.
Before the germination chamber, trays with seeds were wrapped in plastic film and placed in a germination room
Thanks to 100% humidity and a temperature of 20-24 °C maintained in the chamber, seeds sprout faster and develop better throughout the whole growth cycle. "Under film the aril of a seed soaks up very slowly, the shoot can get stuck in it and not hatch at all, or get injured. Whereas in the germination chamber — it is simply impossible: 100% humidity lets the aril soak completely, making it easier for the sprout to get out of the seed. A new plant "comes into the world" smoothly and matures faster,"— comments Pavel Zeeman.
In the germination chamber, seed trays are not wrapped in plastic film
At the moment, a germination chamber is installed at an industrial facility in Novosibirsk, Russia. In the future, all the production sites around the world that grow greens will be equipped with it. As Zeeman said, development of the chamber turned out to be a very cost-effective decision: creating it from scratch was three times cheaper than buying.
"The higher the yields from every vertical farm are, the more produce our partners can deliver in stores and restaurants. This allows them to see a faster return of their investment in iFarm technology and a bigger profit," — says Max Chizhov, iFarm co-founder.
iFarm is currently working on a germination chamber for smaller vertical farms. It is based on a household refrigerator: being airtight it allows to maintain 100% humidity and the required temperature. The chamber is planned to contain 5-10 trays, which is sufficient for an object with a cultivation area of up to 400 m².