At the Tecnológico Nacional de México (TecNM) campus in Pabellón de Arteaga, they are developing a project to produce organic lettuce in small, controlled spaces.
This is a mini vertical farm built in the Artificial Lighting Laboratory (LIA), where 135 lettuces were obtained in a space of two square meters.
This cultivation system consists of 4 levels. Each level requires an irrigation system and a led lighting system, as well as ventilation in a controlled environment, “to avoid contamination of the lettuce and the use of pesticides or chemical fertilizers, with hydroponic cultivation practices,” declared Dr. José Ernesto Olvera González, Mexican scientist and director of the TecNM in this city.
After two years of research, the mini vertical farm was put into operation with the aim of putting into practice the research carried out in the LIA laboratory on issues of artificial lighting, light recipes, and controlled environments, which “can even be practiced in homes,” he said. The researcher said that they set the goal of growing 135 to 140 lettuces in two varieties: orejona and sangria, to test the operation of the system: monitoring variables, pH, humidity conductivity, and temperature; irrigation and radiation.
Olvera González explained that the group of researchers proposed different light prescriptions at each of the levels to see the effect on growth at each one, as well as a pair of fans to maintain the temperature and aeration in the glow tent.
“After achieving the initial objective, we are now trying to optimize the space in this system with the idea of achieving a production of 250 to 300 lettuces in 2 square meters, with a light treatment already defined for the development of the specific nutrients of the plant,” he said.