iFarm develops a cutting-edge DFT system for record yields

iFarm develops a cutting-edge DFT system for record yields

By improving irrigation systems and phyto-lighting technology for vertical farms, iFarm has increased yields by up to 57% on average in the mix and reduced production costs by a third.

Running a successful vertical farm involves careful consideration of numerous factors, from selecting the right product mix to supporting effective team collaboration. Equally important is the selection of the suitable vertical farming technology for constructing or upgrading a farm.

iFarm, an international technology company enabling IT-driven farming in enclosed environments, uses a hydroponic farming system where plant roots are submerged in substrates, along with a nutrient-rich water solution. In hydroponics, a variety of irrigation techniques, soil substitutes, and growing techniques might be used. The selection of those influences the speed and efficiency of a vertical farm’s production cycle, and how fast the farm will pay off.

In the first half of 2023, the iFarm R&D department conducted experiments on the company’s leafy greens varieties. The results showed that when the enhanced DFT system (Deep Flow Technique) was combined with upgraded lighting, it significantly improved the unit economy of vertical farms.

In the advanced DFT system, the water flow in the cultivation area is faster and the oxygen and nutrient levels in the substrate are higher than in the NFT (Nutrient Flow Technique). As a result, plants gain weight faster and stay fresh longer.
For example, the yield of Romaine lettuce on iFarm farms using the DFT irrigation system reached 7 kg/m2, compared with 4−4.2 kg/m2 using the standard NFT system. In addition, its shelf life is 40% longer when the DFT system is used.
The iFarm R&D team also changed the irrigation logic in the seedling area by using the Ebb&Flow technique. This ensures optimal oxygenation of the plant’s root system and positively affects the yield.
The team has recorded an average yield increase ranging from 11% to 25% in leafy greens varieties (depending on the specific crop) through the uplifting of seedlings and cultivation areas. The yield improvement has been significantly noticeable in the lower weight crops.
In the updated technology, the mineral wool is used as the seedling substrate. Unlike organic peat, mineral wool is sterile and more efficient: twice as many plants can be placed in a tray in the seedlings area. Additionally, mineral wool has some other important pros: there is no need to prepare the peat substrate before sowing, nor to use capillary mats or pots. As a result, total production costs are reduced by 15%.
Vertical farming, trays with leafy greens, salads, photo iFarm
iFarm increased yield by up to 57% by improving the lighting on vertical farms.
Source: iFarm.
As mentioned earlier, in addition to improving the irrigation technology, iFarm experimented with artificial lighting to achieve even higher yields. By increasing the light intensity, yields increased by 42-134%, depending on the crop (compared to the baseline iFarm technology previously used).

At the same time, higher energy costs are more than offset by higher yields and a shorter crop growth cycle (6% increase in energy costs; 30% reduction in production costs).
Based on the positive results of the experiments conducted, iFarm begins to offer its upgraded state-of-the-art vertical farming technology to customers. With the new technology, the estimated payback period of a vertical farm will be reduced from 4,5 to 3,2 years (for a farm with total cultivation area of 1,000 square meters), bringing the vertical farming business to a new level and making it a great investment opportunity.

Calculate the farm's profitability with the iFarm vertical farming profit calculator. Set the required parameters and estimate:

  • The cultivation area
  • Power requirements
  • Average daily electricity and water consumption
  • Total initial investments
  • Monthly expenses
  • Payback period
To find out more about iFarm's innovative farming technologies and start your own vertical farm, fill in the form:
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