On this image, I’m measuring the spectrum and depth of the sunshine in a room the place my firm, Ekonoke, is rising hops hydroponically. At our services, close to Madrid, we have now three rooms geared up with sensors that management lighting, temperature, humidity, carbon dioxide ranges and photosynthesis, amongst different elements. As soon as every week, I manually test the sensors to ensure that plant progress and density are heading in the right direction.
Ekonoke’s sensors additionally alert us to any issues — similar to a leak within the irrigation system — earlier than they have an effect on the crops.
Hops, the flower of the plant Humulus lupulus, are what provides beer its distinctive flavour. Rising them hydroponically means utilizing a minimal quantity of substrate for the roots. We additionally use a recirculating irrigation system that recycles many of the water we use to develop the crops.
I studied ecological agriculture at Wageningen College & Analysis within the Netherlands and, in 2016, launched Ekonoke with growth advisor Inés Sagrario. We grew leafy greens that we offered on to prospects. In 2020, we have been joined by folks with expertise in producing microgreens, and collectively we began testing indoor hydroponic hops.
This crop is in excessive demand worldwide however its high quality and amount are strongly affected by local weather and different variants. Right here, in our managed indoor system, we are able to obtain 4 yields a 12 months as a substitute of 1 — and with out utilizing pesticides.
This 12 months, we’ll transfer to a brand new indoor website of 1,000 sq. metres in Galicia, within the north of Spain, to start out producing at business scale. We’re establishing this facility in partnership with Hijos de Rivera, the Spanish firm that launched the beer Estrella Galicia greater than 100 years in the past.
Our collaboration’s first fruit — ‘Respect!’, a restricted version of a beer produced solely with our hydroponically grown Humulus — got here out in July. It’s the world’s first beer to be made completely with indoor hops.