Can Cucumbers and Tomatoes Be Grown on Vertical Farms?

iFarm is conducting experiments and growing cucumbers and tomatoes in vertical farms. Find out more about our results!
If you’ve followed iFarm’s development, you’ll know that we’re continually developing new technology and creating new plant growth recipes. Our talented Research and Development team consistently experiments with software, growing methods and crops to achieve the best results. Then, we make these innovative solutions available to clients to optimise growth in vertical farms all over the world.

Whether it’s our proprietary LED lamps or pioneering iFarm Growtune platform we’re dedicated to creating ground-breaking technology that enables vertical farms to flourish in any location.
For our latest experiments, our in-house agronomists are trialling new ways of growing cucumbers and tomatoes in vertical farms. Read on to find out why and how we’re exploring new growth options for these vegetables, and what the results show.
Growing Cucumbers and Vegetables: Why Are New Methods Needed?
iFarm has developed a variety of solutions to create efficient, productive and reliable yields in vertical farms. To date, more than 160 salad vegetables, herbs, microgreens, strawberries and edible flowers are grown using multi-tiered systems in vertical farms powered by iFarm tech.

However, our customers indicated that they wanted to be able to grow ‘ordinary vegetables’ on vertical farms too. So, we set about experimenting with new ways to grow cucumbers and tomatoes in a controlled, indoor environment.

A key consideration is the amount of space that cucumbers and tomatoes can take up. As they grow on vines, the vertical height could mean that they take up more space than other types of plants. We want to find a way to grow cucumbers and tomatoes that maximises growing space in order to achieve high yields and maximum profitability.
What Growing Methods Are We Experimenting With?
Using an aeroponics growing method, iFarm agronomists are already successfully growing tomatoes and cucumbers in a totally enclosed space. Here, you can see what the root system of a tomato plant looks like when grown using the latest iFarm tech:
To facilitate the cultivation of tomatoes and cucumbers in this new growing environment, our agronomists are using cubes of mineral wool as a substrate. Already proven as a suitable substrate, mineral wool allows both seedlings and adult plants to develop well.

In addition to this, cubes of mineral wool are environmentally friendly and recyclable, which ensures that vertical farms can continue to operate sustainably and provide an eco-friendly alternative to traditional farming methods. However, the benefits don’t stop there. As the mineral wool substrate takes up minimal space and reduces the need for water and fertilisers, vertical farms can maximise their yield, reduce costs and increase profitability.

To date, two varieties of cucumbers are being grown using this method of cultivation in iFarm labs: medium and short-fruited.
As you can see, drip irrigation delivers nutrients to the root of the plant, while the vine grows upwards, resting on a trellis for support. As vines can grow up to 18 metres, we reduce the size of the stem as it grows and harvest from the lower levels to ensure there is no reduction in the yield of the crop. This methodology means cucumbers and tomatoes can be incorporated into new and existing vertical farms, and deliver increased profitability.
What Do The Results Show?
Based on our current growth experiments, medium-fruited smooth cucumber plants produce approx. 1.2 kg of produce per plant, per week and short-fruited cucumber plants provide around 0.6-0.7 kg of produce per plant, per week.
Following the success of these trials, two farms are set to launch using this latest iFarm technology. One of them will start operating in Russia in November 2021, and the other will open in Qatar in January 2022.

As part of the experimental process, expert iFarm agronomists are consistently modifying irrigation systems, climate, lighting equipment and agricultural technology to deliver optimal growth, so stay tuned to find out how our experiments evolve!

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30.08.2021
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