Fast Company

PlantLab's Psychedelic Plant-Growing Paradise

Who needs sun and dirt? PlantLab is the latest in hydroponic, lightless plant growing, so any food can be local.

There is no shortage of hydroponic produce startups aiming to capitalize on the world's growing desire for fruits and vegetables that don't need to be trucked in thousands of miles to their destination. But Dutch agricultural startup PlantLab may win the award for most psychedelic hydroponic setup--the company grows its plants (including tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and lettuce) indoors using red and blue LED lights.

By customizing the light spectrum, nutrients, irrigation, and climate to meet each plant's needs, PlantLab believes it can create a "plant paradise" for the crops. Plants actually only use a small amount of the light spectrum, so they don't really need sun. And the company claims that its techniques use 10% less water and can increase crop yield by a factor of three when compared to traditional growing methods, according to SingularityHub.

Sound familiar? That's because PodPonics, a startup based in Atlanta, Georgia is also using complex mathematical calculations to dramatically boost the yield of its hydroponically grown crops. The difference: PodPonics is only growing microgreens (PlantLab is growing all sorts of crops), and the Atlanta-based company already sells its goods to local restaurants.

PlantLab, on the other hand, is still in the R&D stages, largely because of the high cost of LED lights. In an email to Fast Company, PlantLab managing partner Gertjan Meeuws estimated that the startup's first multilayer city nursery will be ready at the end of this year or in early 2012. The company is still looking for a space. When it finds one, though... break out the glow sticks.

Reach Ariel Schwartz via Twitter or email.

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1 Comments

  • chris ryan

    Ariel, thanks for the great post. Of note, your article above says "the company claims that its techniques use 10% less water .." The singularity hub article you refer to  says,
    "Water? They need just 10% of the traditional requirements", or 90% less water, in line with most hydroponic grows. Thanks for the great article! AlphaHydroponics.com