Indoor vertical farming offers great opportunities regarding a sustainable and consistent production of high-quality herbs and raw materials all year round for the perfume, chemical, or food industry. Cultivation takes place in an enclosed structure, operating predominantly independent from external conditions in multi-layer systems equipped with artificial lighting, enabling extremely high resource use efficiencies with a simultaneous increase in yield. On the other hand, field production in terms of plant quality and harvesting times is highly influenced by environmental conditions, making it difficult to maintain homogenous raw material qualities throughout the year. To show how different light qualities affect the overall efficiency and quality of Origanum majorana
grown in an indoor farm, the resource consumption, yield, and cultivation time as well as the essential oil quantity was analyzed, and the efficiencies in terms of energy and land use efficiency calculated. The experimental setup clearly demonstrated that the yield regarding fresh as well as dry matter and oil content was comparable to one square meter of open field production. Based on this, the multi-layer system and the noticeable lowered growth period result in a significantly higher area efficiency compared to the open field, leading to a potential increase of annual yields of dried leave weight and oil contents by up to 21 times. It was also shown that a white spectrum (W) showed similar influence on plant growth and yield as a spectrum consisting of blue and red (B/R). Nevertheless, the LED treatment W did show higher light use efficiencies as well as a better working conditions inside the cultivation chamber. By an integration of indoor vertical farming into existing industrial processes, new and innovative opportunities for a flexible and low-risk supply chain seem feasible and according to German food industry meet the interests of existing stakeholders.
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