How to Grow Cucumbers with Hydroponics: iFarm Veggies Technology

How to Grow Cucumbers with Hydroponics: iFarm Veggies Technology

Indoor cultivation of vegetables has become an increasingly popular method for achieving a reliable supply of fresh produce in places with harsh or hot climates, without the need for large tracts of land or complex distribution chains. There are also numerous environmental benefits of indoor cultivation, such as significant reductions in water use and food waste. By moving crops inside, they can be harvested all year-round and grown exactly according to demand.

Considering that vegetables such as tomatoes and cucumbers need much more space to grow upwards than other types of crops typically grown on vertical farms, the key challenge for indoor cultivation is making the most efficient possible use of the indoor farm’s growing area.
So how can we grow vegetables indoors?
For several years, iFarm has been running experiments to discover the optimal way to grow edible plants so as to maximize the growing space and achieve high yield and excellent flavor. The results have demonstrated that iFarm Veggies technology is a step forward for highly efficient industrial cultivation of vegetables in controlled, enclosed environments.
Vegetables grown indoors with hydroponics iFarm
Tomatoes and cucumbers grown on the iFarm Veggies indoor farm.

Source: iFarm.

In this article, we will take a tour around the pilot indoor farm powered by iFarm Veggies with its owner Valeriy Prokopshin and explore the technology in detail.

iFarm Veggies farm: growing cucumbers indoors

The iFarm Veggies indoor farm is located in Northeast Asia, where the climate conditions are too harsh for outdoor crop cultivation, with temperatures reaching -20°C (-4°F) in winter and quite cool summer seasons, with average temperatures of 15 °C (59°F).

Another factor in favor of indoor cultivation here are the energy costs. They are relatively low in this region, which is fundamental for efficient vertical farming and indoor cultivation. Energy costs account for 20% of all production costs.

The farm was constructed right in a big-box shopping center selling gardening items, plants, seedlings, and furniture for gardens and country houses. The farm’s owner Valeriy Prokopshin says the location is "very favorable" due to convenient infrastructure and low rent.

"In September 2022, the first seed was planted on the farm. After just two months, the first batch of cucumbers was shipped to retailers. By preparing the space for the farm at the same time as cultivating the seedlings, we were able to save time in launching production."

Valeriy Prokopshin
The iFarm Veggies farm’s owner
The owner of the hypermarket was just as enthusiastic as Valeriy about launching an IT-driven cucumber farm on his premises — another factor that facilitated the farm’s fast setup processes.

The major advantage of the location is its direct-sales potential. The farm has plate-glass walls, allowing visitors of the shopping center to watch the vegetables being grown — and purchase some right away.
The yield produced is also supplied to local supermarkets for further sale. The pilot farm is 100% operationally profitable.
iFarm Veggies indoor farm
iFarm Veggies indoor farm.
Source: iFarm.
The farming facility has two separate sections: cultivation area and seedlings area, with a total cultivation space of 150 square meters.

The main cultivation area is 60 square meters, and has room for over 480 short-fruited cucumber plants, with a yield of around 40 kg of cucumbers per day.
iFarm Veggies farm indoor cultivation area
Indoor cultivation area on an iFarm Veggies farm. Source: iFarm.
"At the moment, we are increasing the main cultivation area by 50%, which will bring it up 90 square meters. This decision was taken based on the farm’s financial performance and high demand for our products."

Valeriy Prokopshin
The iFarm Veggies farm’s owner
The seedling area is 14 square meters; over 800 plants can be grown there simultaneously.
iFarm Veggies farm indoor seedlings area
Seedlings growing on an iFarm Veggies farm.
Source: iFarm.
The vertical farming system used for indoor cultivation of vegetables on this iFarm Veggies lab-farm is based on the low-volume hydroponic system method. It makes use of drip-irrigation hydroponics without recirculation of the nutrient solution.

The substrate consists of recyclable, compact cubes of rockwool. This reduces the need for water and fertilizers, making it not only a very sustainable method of cultivation, but also cost-effective.

Currently, the farm is producing short-fruited varieties of cucumbers. Valeriy explains that his team experimented with different hybrids, including bee-pollinated ones. It turned out that these were far from being ideal in terms of taste and suitability for processing. Thus, it was decided to switch to a different hybrid variety.
Cucumbers grown with hydroponics indoors iFarm

Indoor cucumber cultivation.

Source: iFarm.

A wide range of tests to discover the ideal light spectrum, nutritioning, climate conditions and hybrid diversity are constantly taking place on the farm.

Apart from experimenting with cucumber production, the owner is planning to extend the product line by growing hydroponic tomatoes indoors and to set up other farms powered by iFarm Veggies technology.

How does the iFarm Veggies indoor farming technology work?

iFarm Veggies can be used for cultivating a wide range of vegetables such as cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, radishes and zucchini.
Radish indoor cultivation iFarm

Indoor radish cultivation with iFarm Veggies technology.

Source: iFarm.

Unlike radishes, which can be grown on a multi-level farm, the cucumbers and tomatoes are cultivated with the help of a specially designed rack system for a single-level growing area.
Rack system for indoor farm iFarm

Rack system for cucumber cultivation indoors.

Source: iFarm.

This rack system has only a single tier, with the plants taking up the full height of 4−5 meters. Support is provided by rigging items such as ropes, cables and chains. Additionally, you can also opt to rearrange the LED phyto-lighting elements for added convenience.

The iFarm racks for vegetable cultivation are similar to the trellis systems used in traditional greenhouses, but the farming method is completely different. The substrate is made of cubes of mineral wool. Plants are fed via vertical farming systems such as flow hydroponics, drip irrigation hydroponics, or aeroponics.
Substrate cubes of mineral wool iFarm Veggies
Substrate for seedlings made of mineral wool.

Source: iFarm.

The irrigation, lighting, and mixing the nutrient solution are all automated, along with full climate control on the farm.

The control system is powered by iFarm Growtune, an all-in-one farm management software. It acts as a farm control center, with climate control, monitoring system, planning, CRM and much more.

What are the benefits of growing vegetables indoors with iFarm Veggies?

  1. Climate independence. Growing indoors enables year-round production in locations with harsh climates like Northern Europe or Northeast Asia, or with high temperatures like Saudi Arabia, where outdoor commercial growing is just not possible.
  2. Short supply chain. The vegetables are grown close to consumers and retailers, in cities and towns.
  3. Rapid scaling and fast production. Setup is usually completed in just 3−4 months.
  4. Soilless cultivation. Recyclable mineral wool is used instead.
  5. Reduced costs. Production, storage and commercial operations are all in one place.
  6. Reduces water usage. iFarm Veggies technology uses 80% less water than traditional farming and translucent greenhouses.

Do you want to learn more about iFarm technologies

for year-round cultivation of veggies, salad greens or

berries and start your own indoor farm?

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