HORTO – Home Cultivator

Can an indoor greenhouse consume little, produce a lot and be the size of a refrigerator? This is the question that Germina asked us when they suggested we develop an adaptive domestic greenhouse.

  • Customer: Germina SRL
  • Sector: Development of adaptive systems for agriculture
Germina SRL designs and develops adaptive agricultural, horticultural and floricultural systems for commercial and consumer use that aim to maximise the production yield per unit area while minimizing the energy required for the climate control of the growing environment. An innovative spin-off start-up of the Faculty of Engineering of Genoa (Italy), Germina holds a number of patents and industrial rights related to adaptive cultivation systems, and operates in both Italian and international markets.
The idea
Create an adaptive indoor greenhouse for high-yield, controlled cultivation.
The challenge
Design a new, compact indoor greenhouse, with independently controlled shelves, based on a system patented by the customer.
The solution
A n adaptive indoor greenhouse that achieves 25% more productivity while using 83% less electricity compared to a fixed shelf system.
The idea
Develop an indoor greenhouse that offers improved performance by adapting to plant growth automatically.
Germina SRL owns several patents, including an innovative adaptive system that provides plants with air, light and rain-like irrigation from a movable shelf located above the cultivation surface. The advantage of this application is an increase in production yield directly proportional to the number of shelves, and therefore to the overall height of the system.

The development of this project was therefore based on the patented solution of a movable cultivation shelf that provides both localized lighting and process air.
The solution
By studying mechanical solutions and creating a prototype, we defined the cycles for each type of cultivation.
To control each cultivation shelf independently, we studied mechanical solutions that would provide effective insulation for each shelf space individually, while retaining the capacity of each shelf to move vertically following the growth of the plants.

Downstream of this activity, we built a working prototype with its operating electronics, so we could carry out cultivation tests aimed to identify the type of plants more suitable for this appliance and define the operating cycles for each cultivation.
The challenge
Design an indoor greenhouse with a minimal footprint and independently controlled shelves.
The device had to be able to control the movement of the cultivation shelves based on the growth of the plants. It also had to manage the targeted supply of air and light towards the cultivations, in order to maximize their yield.

Additionally, the device had to be sized for a domestic environment, with a footprint comparable to that of a double-door fridge.

A further innovative feature required was the ability to control each cultivation shelf independently of each other. We have therefore carried out significant fluid dynamics and thermodynamics work to design a climate control system capable to control temperature, humidity and air flow individually for each shelf.
The result
An indoor greenhouse with 6 cultivation shelves, 25% more productivity and 83% less energy consumption.
This adaptive indoor greenhouse is an appliance that can provide effective and controlled cultivation of a variety of common plants for domestic consumption while achieving high yields per unit of volume.

In addition to the modularity of the shelves, the independent and differentiated climate control of each cultivation area increases the flexibility of use of the appliance, and widens the range of plants that can be grown simultaneously.

For normal domestic applications, considering 6 cultivation shelves, the benefit translates into 25% more productivity and 83% less electricity consumption compared to a fixed shelf system.