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Microgreen: profitability and practical tips for farmers

Микрозелень

Now in a number of industries, such as vegetable growing, greenhouse farming, public catering, etc., a new trend is being vividly discussed - microgreen. Its advantages include especially delicate taste properties and the fact that plants are able to grow without fertilizers, that is, only at the expense of their own reserves in the seeds.

Vadim Dudka, director of AgroAnaliz, in Kakhovka, and an agricultural engineering consultant well-known among vegetable growers, shared his experience in growing microgreen.

What refers to microgreens and what not? Vadim Dudka believes that only young plants in the cotyledon phase - the 1st true leaf should be called a microgreen. “In fact, this technology is not cultivation, but forcing,” he says.

Микрозелень

Cultures that are germinated according to this principle are usually divided into 3 groups: spicy-flavoring, decorative leafy, and fillers. The most popular representative of the second type is Lolla Ross's salad, which has a rich color and is famous not only for its excellent taste, but also for its attractive appearance. As for the third group - fillers - they are used so that the taste of the dishes is not too sharp. Most often, alfalfa, peas, beans and the like are used as fillers. Microgreen technology is increasingly being tested on new crops, such as sunflower and maize.

In recent years, the fashion for microgreen has increased significantly in Ukraine. First of all, due to its beneficial properties, because plant sprouts contain a lot of nutrients, vitamins and minerals. The ease and speed of growing not only on the plantations, but also at home, also contributes to the popularity of microgreens. Vadim Dudka advises anyone who has risked growing microgreen to first choose non-pickled seeds. That is, in the case of imported seeds that come here only with pickled seeds, take only organic seeds.

It is best suited for microgreens, according to V. Dudka, a substrate of a neutral reaction, such as coconut fiber or peat (the latter may be slightly acidic). And you should use only fine peat. The thickness of the substrate in which the sowing is carried out should be about 1-1.5 cm.

As for the requirements for sowing, then they are different in different cultures. It is better not to sprinkle the seeds of one with the substrate (for example, watercress), the second - on the contrary, should be covered by 3-4 mm (lettuce, beet, alfalfa in this case give more friendly shoots), for the third this moment does not matter ( for example, mustard).

It is also important to monitor the growing temperature. According to Dudka, this is a key success factor.

Microgreen requires higher temperatures in the greenhouse than conventional crops. Thus, a temperature increase of 2 ° C can accelerate the forcing period by 2–8 days, and the drawing out of microgreens is only beneficial. The arugula is narrow-leaved, the forcing period of which is reduced from 30 to 22 days for increasing heat from 18 ° C to 20 ° C.

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The optimal temperature for a microgreen depends on the phase of plant development. Thus, in the phase of germination, cold-resistant microgreen (salads, mustard, beets, onions, chard, dill) develops well at a temperature of 17-19 ° C, and in the distillation phase - 22-25 ° C during the day and 17-19 ° C at night . Thermophilic herbs (alfalfa, beans, cress) are grown at a temperature of 20-22 ° C in the germination phase and 22-25 ° C and 17-20 ° C, respectively, in the distillation phase.

As for additional lighting, V. Dudka believes that it is not suitable for all cultures, and quite often does not pay off at all. The only exception may be cultivation in several tiers, or when in the greenhouse the lighting was installed earlier. Also, light exposure makes sense when the crop needs to be received by a certain date, or in order for the plants to turn green before selling.

From his experience, Vadim Dudka says that it is better to grow microgreen in trays made of food grade plastic. True, they still need to make holes for drainage - at least 5 pieces of tray at least 5 mm wide. He cultivated microgreen in cassettes for 500 or 160 cells. As the expert says, there are no problems with drainage in this case. Yes, then the yield is less, but the green itself is much juicier and thicker.

In industrial production, for fast (within 10-15 min) cooling of microgreen V. Dudka advises to use a vacuum cooler, because the plant tissue is very delicate. For beginners, in his opinion, there will be enough refrigerator. In this case, he recommends, before cutting, put the trays in the refrigerator, cool them to + 4 ° С, it is enough to moisten, cut and pack the products. “Under these conditions, the plants are kept fresh for up to 7 days,” the expert says. He also notes that it is very important to choose the right moment of cutting: it is impossible to retain microgreen, because it will quickly turn yellow and fade.

The microgreen season, as V. Dudka said, lasts from October to April. Outstanding role in the sale of products is advertising. The expert notes that the Internet should become the main sales channel, and this is quite logical, given globalization.

The location of production should be as close as possible to the city, because for this product group logistics plays a key role. Lots are usually small - up to 200-300 kg per day at best, so the delivery is rather troublesome. A related product, on the recommendation of Vadim Dudka, may be a vitgrass, which is also now becoming fashionable.

It is necessary to use greenhouses with racks and sprays (micro irrigation), which will be included 4-6 times a day. Automation costs about $ 20. As noted by Vadim Dudka. subject to compliance with all the rules of production technology, you can do without refrigerators for finished products.

Costs and profitability of a farm of 10 acres (calculations by the companies "Agroanalysis"):

Amortization of greenhouse construction

$ 2,600

Depreciation of heating and irrigation systems

$ 660

Heating (October-April)

$ 6,480

Seeds (assortment)

$ 7,700

Water

$ 46

Substrate

$ 480

Growing trays

$ 3 110

Packing Trays

$ 3 110

Salary

$ 2 100

Logistics

$ 6,220

Advertising

$ 900

Other costs

$ 450

TOTAL

$ 33 856

Gross yield, kg

6300

Selling price, $ / kg

$ 10

Revenue

$ 63,000

Profit

$ 29,144

Profitability

86%

Margarita Malinovskaya Via propozitsiya.com