The richness of flavors encapsulated in centimeter-sized vegetable and herb sprouts. Their delicate and airy structure stands out with its subtle appearance. Microgreens are recognized as “superfood” due to their valuable health properties.
They are a rich source of biological compounds that play a significant role in human health, including reducing the risk of chronic diseases. They add a unique character to dishes on the plate, and each small bite is an unparalleled delight for our taste buds.
|What are microgreens?
Microgreens are young, not fully matured plant sprouts that typically reach a height of a few centimeters or a dozen centimeters. Unlike sprouts, they are grown in soil or dedicated growing mediums, such as mats made of natural fibers like hemp, flax, or coconut.
Microgreens are characterized by their intense flavors, delicate texture, and nutritional richness. They are popular in the culinary world as both decorative elements for dishes and ingredients that add exceptional taste to meals.
There are numerous plant species that can be cultivated as microgreens in hydroponic systems, such as calabrese broccoli, pea shoots, red beet, thai basil, and lemon basil. Each of the mentioned microgreens may contain higher concentrations of phytonutrients compared to mature plants of these species.
Phytonutrients are naturally occurring substances in plants that evoke positive biological responses, including protection against environmental stressors. They possess beneficial properties for both the plant and human health. Some of the most popular phytonutrients include carotenoids, chlorophyll, and flavonoids.
Microgreens have the potential benefits of improving certain metabolic disorders, including reducing obesity, inflammation, and blood sugar levels. They are recommended for individuals dealing with conditions such as cancer, diabetes, chronic kidney diseases, and circulatory issues.
Cultivating microgreens in urban centers is gaining increasing popularity due to their relatively short shelf life. Through local cultivation, they maintain their maximum freshness and reach consumers with their crispness and flavor intact.
Microgreens grown in hydroponic vertical farming systems are cultivated on mats made of natural fibers such as hemp, flax, or coconut. The mats have a thin layer ranging from 0.5 to 3 cm in height. The seedlings are watered from the bottom, as top watering may promote mold development.
During cultivation, trace amounts of fertilizers are used, or sometimes none at all. The sprouting plants utilize their stored reserves of nutrients (carbohydrates, proteins, fats) accumulated in the seeds.
After harvesting, hemp and flax mats can be composted. They are fully biodegradable and environmentally friendly.
Microgreens typically grow on vertical farms for 2 to 3 weeks. During a single cultivation cycle, it is possible to sow multiple seed species simultaneously, provided they have similar cultivation requirements, such as a similar duration of darkness period.
Vertical farming of microgreens in controlled conditions brings many benefits.
1. Year-round business in the agricultural industry:
The cultivation is carried out in specially adapted and isolated spaces or shipping containers. They operate independently of external conditions. The plants develop according to their natural growth cycle. The following factors are ensured:
• Proper temperature
• Air humidity
• The quantity of water supplied along with nutrients, the appropriate oxygen level in the water (aeration), temperature (its level), pH, and EC.
• Adequate DLI (Daylight Integral) and appropriate light spectrum for the plants
In our R&D center, we continuously develop new cultivation recipes to enhance the growing conditions. Cultivation recipes consist of a set of controlled variables collected in the Grow Wizard software, which ensures ideal growth conditions for the plants.
The mentioned data set is derived from sensors and indicators placed in selected locations in the production area. This guarantees consistent and optimal cultivation conditions within the facility. The Grow Wizard program allows us to control and manage the growing conditions.
2. Fast growth cycle:
Microgreens typically grow in 2-3 weeks, which gives the microgreens business the potential for rapid turnover. During one cultivation cycle, multiple species of microgreens can be grown at the same time if they have similar cultivation requirements.
3. Ready-to-use business solution:
Hydropolis provides comprehensive solutions for vertical farming, including:
• Developed technology, including equipment for hydroponic cultivation in the SMART CROP system and Plantainers.
• Farm management software and monitoring of conditions on each production line.
• Years of experience: Our know-how, acquired through academic research and the development of Hydropolis technology, as well as continuous collaboration with industry experts.
Discover Where Microgreens Are Most Commonly Found!
• Cosmetics Industry: Microgreens are used as an ingredient in cosmetics, adding a unique touch to various skincare products.
• Grocery Stores and Herbal Shops: They are typically packaged in small containers with a short shelf life. Each type is often packed separately.
• Catering: Catering companies utilize microgreens as decorative elements or additions to dishes served in meal plans, as well as at various events, banquets, and receptions.
|Garnishing: Derived from the French word “garnir,” meaning “to decorate,” microgreens serve as excellent garnishes for dishes. They provide an aesthetic finish, freshness, and intensified flavor.
• Restaurants: Microgreens are not only found in health-focused restaurants but also in cafes, and juice bars.
Here are 3 points to help you start your own venture in the agricultural industry.
1. Explore the Market Offerings and Distribution Channels. Familiarize yourself with the available market offerings and examine the distribution methods to various outlets:
• Grocery stores
2. Choose the Microgreen Species for Cultivation. Select the plant species you want to cultivate. Microgreens come in various species, including wheatgrass, sunflower, pea shoots, radishes, broccoli, kale, arugula, beets, basil, and even mustard.
3. Learn the Technology for Rapid Growth. At Hydropolis, we specialize in providing comprehensive solutions for microgreens farming. Contact us to receive a tailored offer:
The total cost of operating a vertical microgreens farm depends on several factors, such as:
• The scale of the enterprise
• Location of the production facility
• Distribution method
Vertical farming allows for quick turnovers in business. Here are 4 reasons to consider microgreens production:
(1) Short Growth Cycle: Microgreens typically have a growth cycle of 2 to 3 weeks.
(2) Weather-Independent Vertical Farms. Cultivation operates regardless of the weather. Growing in controlled conditions guarantees yields.
(3) Space-Efficient Cultivation: Microgreens can be grown on relatively small space compared to traditional agriculture.
(4) Growing Demand for Local Products: The trend for local products is continually rising. This interest arises from a desire to know the origin of our food and aligns with the European Union’s “Farm to Fork” strategy.
Microgreens are a superfood accessible to everyone. Thanks to their unique flavor profiles and high nutritional values, they are widely recognized as an exceptional addition to a healthy diet. Their rich variety extends beyond a few seed species. Newer varieties are constantly being developed, gaining their own enthusiasts.
Large-scale vertical farming of microgreens can be a profitable solution. By employing appropriate technology and selecting the right market, it is possible to engage in year-round agricultural business.
Modern solutions in the field of agriculture 4.0 are the right path in the face of current climate changes. It also involves harnessing advancing technology for sustainable resource utilization, such as creating optimal conditions for plant growth with minimal water consumption (minimizing water footprint) and fertilizers.
 Bhaswant M, Shanmugam DK, Miyazawa T, Abe C, Miyazawa T. Microgreens—A Comprehensive Review of Bioactive Molecules and Health Benefits. Molecules. 2023; 28(2):867. https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules28020867