The research, as always promoted by Idromeccanica Lucchini, has led to the experimentation of a new form of vertical farming inside Box containers equipped and automated. This type of technology, derived from the vertical farm, allows you exploiting three-dimensional spaces and to cultivate on reduced surfaces, on several floors, but first of all in every habitat and at every latitude. The box is a standard shipping container, properly equipped with automated led lights, irrigation and air conditioning systems. The interior of the box looks like a real "white room" where you can cultivate in an ideal habitat that perfectly simulates the climate and lighting for each specific type of culture.
Five years of experimentation
This such innovative and practical tool can be moved anywhere and is characterized by great flexibility of use and ease of installation. The fine-tuning of the Box took years of experimentation to fully understand its potential and to determine its best possible use. The tests, which lasted five years and involved university institutes, agronomists and researchers, focused on consumption measurement, yields calculation and cultivable varieties optimization inside the modules.
Attempts and first results
Loyal to the motto "learning by doing", the technicians of Idromeccanica Lucchini have used a practical approach and the first cultivation experiments inside the boxes were carried out on leaf vegetables, then on small growth crops, to be able to make the best use of space and get the best yields. First important results were obtained on small aromatic plants (in partnership with "Semprefresco" Company), whose cultivation may be of particular interest for catering, especially in those places of the world where cultivation in open field would be more difficult. Precisely for this reason, this type of cultivation has brought some academic involvement in countries with rigid climates such as, specifically, Finland.
The great insight
The results obtained during the tests have allowed to understand that the best use for this particular technology is the use as nursery for nursery plants. Thanks to water flow and reflux circuits, the use of LED light and a forced air climate circuit FIDEM certified, inside the box, in fact, it is possible to recreate an ideal and above all protected environment, to obtain healthy and strong seedlings and therefore more resistant in the mature phases of their life cycle. Originating strong seedlings means significantly improving their yield and increasing their chances of survival to the climatic variations once transplanted in the open field or greenhouse. The possibilities offered by this system therefore become multiple and particularly interesting for the Market. In fact, growers are very interested in these products with great added value and are willing to spend high amounts on plants of great yield and strong resistance.
Different areas of use and trends
The areas of application of this system of growth and weaning of the plants starting from the seed are multiple. Particular interest is shown on the cultivation of cut vegetables, superfoods, edible flowers and microgreens (tradition coming from the Far East), that is, edible microplants typical of gourmet catering and of particular interest to the premium market, as well as vegetarian and vegan consumers. The nursery in box container, moreover, satisfies another great market trend, that is that of the one of zero kilometer vegetable.
Nourishing the world
Maybe the most revolutionary application, however, is given by the possibility of creating resistant seedlings in areas of the planet with no suitable climates for cultivation, where there is a lack of both functional logistics and a strong agricultural vocation. With Box containers it is in fact possible to generate healthy seedlings, which will then be planted in the field at zero kilometers. Working with engineered seeds, of plants resistant to difficult climates, it is possible to bring fresh food to areas of the world suffering from hunger, creating productive clusters even in areas where the agricultural tradition does not exist.
Idromeccanica Lucchini has already implemented several such plants both in Italy and in other European Countries, checking the possibilities of different emerging business models, which make cultivation by means of Box containers particularly profitable and convenient.