Plant foods often travel long distances before arriving in our markets, thus impacting our ecological footprint. At the same time, the frequency of extreme weather events is increasing, leading increasingly to crop failures. These and other challenges call for innovative and efficient solutions for agriculture and food producers.
Meissner AG is therefore contributing its know-how to an innovative agricultural concept in the field of vertical farming. We see the enormous advantages that vertical farming offers: Significantly less water is needed to grow plant-based food than in conventional agriculture. Long transport routes are avoided because the vegetables can be grown anywhere and at any time. In our case, this is done on site, independent of seasons and weather conditions.
The best-known forms of vertical farming with artificially generated light (PFAL – “Plant factory with artificial lighting”) are so far shelf-like systems, which are based on the hydroponic method, for example. Compared to the current indoor farming methods, our system offers a lot of process-technical innovations that result in additional positive effects. Meissner AG has secured a licence for the OrbiPlant® plant cultivation system from the Fraunhofer Institute, developed this system further and brought it to industrial maturity.
The facility consists of an undulating conveyor belt system that firmly fixes the respective plants and continuously realigns them in space. This increases the production of certain plant hormones, resulting in faster leaf growth and higher biomass (orbitropal effect).
LED technology ensures optimal lighting by adjusting the light recipe specifically to the needs of the plant. This even allows the taste and ingredients of the harvested products to be positively influenced, which leads to an increase in productivity. Nutrients are supplied via an aeroponic system, in which the plant roots are directly supplied with nutrients via a spray mist. Excess liquid drips off and is returned to the circulation system. This ensures that our cultivation system requires only about one thousandth of the amount of water used in conventional agriculture. 97.5 % of the water used is thus recycled.
Compared to previous vertical farming systems, the Meissner AG system is more energy-efficient, as the heat can rise to the top. The OrbiPlant® system thus prevents heat accumulation through its geometry, which has the advantage that the plants benefit from a consistent climate. Another advantage is that the seedlings are planted and the plants harvested close to the ground. On the one hand, this favours the manual operation of the plant as well as the implementation of a partially or fully automated solution.
The OrbiPlant® system, which we have further developed, ensures faster leaf growth and higher biomass, so you have a maximised yield. The harvested plants also stay fresh longer. At the same time, vertical farming does not require pesticides or herbicides and is resource-efficient in terms of fertiliser use.
We make it possible for you to produce plant-based food regardless of the weather, time of day or season, and to have it at your disposal in a plannable way. You can calculate exactly when you need to set out plants in order to harvest fresh and crunchy vegetables at a scheduled time. On site in Wallau, Meissner AG has a 45 m² facility which is used for the continuous further development of the plant technology as well as for carrying out trials. This enables us to determine the best possible process parameters for your products in advance.