Intravision Group was in 2018 awarded a NSERC grant to research plants in cooperation with CESRF University of Guelph. The grant includes one PhD candidate and two MsC candidates. The candidates are presenting their own work on this and similar pages, and updates will follow.
Presentation by: Jared Stoochnoff, PhD Student, Controlled Environment Systems Research Facility
To date, most high-density plant factories with artificial lighting (PFALs) focus primarily on the production of leafy greens and microgreens due to the simplicity of their production cycle and environment requirements. While these crops can be profitable when sold to high end restaurants and grocery stores, they have little to no nutritional value. The NSERC CRD research project will take advantage of a suite of advanced plant analysis chambers at the University of Guelph’s Controlled Environment Systems Research Facility (CESRF) to optimize the growth environment for the production of fresh (snap) bush beans (Phaseolus spp.) in an ‘vertical farming’ production system. Bush beans were selected for this research for their high nutritional value (protein, fiber) and cultural significance to the diet of Ontario's Iroquois tribe as one of the Three Sisters.
Utilizing the infrastructure available at the CESRF, optimal light quality, light intensity, carbon dioxide concentration, temperature, humidity, and nutrient delivery will be determined. Each one of these environment factors can influence plant physiology, morphology, and secondary metabolite production and as such must be properly balanced to achieve optimal production and nutritional composition. Each environment variable must be tested successively on juvenile and mature growth phases to determine the effect on plant size, fruit production, taste, and nutritional content. Once the environmental control settings and horticultural management strategies have been determined they will ultimately be replicated within a high-density vertical farming system similar to Intravisions “GravityFlow”.
In the future, vertical farming systems equipped with the environment condition recipes determined at the CESRF/UoG could be deployed in remote communities across the Canada as a new high quality food source for the millions of Canadians that suffer from food insecurity.
R&D on Plants
of Guelph, and
Progress to date:
I have made significant strides in writing my own software able to process and present the massive volumes of raw data collected by our systems. I have also installed programmable cameras within our growth chambers and customized computer vision algorithms to estimate leaf surface area, plant size, and potentially capture the early signs of nutrient deficiencies in near real time. Real time estimates of the plants’ actual response to the environment, paired with environment condition data, may lead to software able to dynamically adjust the environment conditions (light intensity, light spectra, CO2 concentration etc.) based on maintaining optimal plant productivity in near real time.