Their deep ﬂavors, aesthetic appeal, and fresh texture add an exotic touch to the edible greens genre. Increasingly sourced for salad ingredients and garnishes, microgreens are upbeat in farmer markets and restaurants.
Recently, microgreen farming has secured its valuable spot in upcoming urban and rural farm production avenues.
- What is Microgreen Farming?
- Nutrition is the USP
- Observe Demand in Your Area
- Business Models
- Consider space requirements & growing methods
- Learn more about varieties in demand
- Harvesting at the right time
- Microgreens shelf life
- Packaging is important to retain freshness
- Gather essential equipments
- Start growing & selling
What is Microgreen Farming?
Microgreen farming involves microgreens production for a commercial function that can be easily facilitated from one’s backyard or even a small room.
Not only are microgreens well suited for indoor production, but they have also emerged as a key part of the global movement towards controlled environmental agriculture. The moment is rising in the wake of the growing population trend and shrinking arable land along with the inevitable need to ensure food security.
Check out our story on profitable microgreens production from an Indian village that highlights the need to adapt to changing climatic conditions and farming opportunities.
Nutrition is the USP
Choe, Yu, and Wang in their research in 2018, reviewed the use of microgreens as functional foods in diet-based disease prevention, for obesity, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes mellitus, and cancer.
As per Professor Qin Wang at the University of Maryland, microgreens are 4 to 40 fold more packed with nutrients. The research team tested 25 diverse commercially grown microgreens. Results found consistently high levels of important nutrients such as vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, lutein, and beta-carotene. A USDA researcher Dr. Gene Lester remarked on the importance of these nutrients for skin, eyes, and fighting cancer.
Microgreens are loaded with concentrated nutrient content despite the small size. Available in a variety of colors and textures, microgreens make a good addition to any diet.
Key Steps Before You Start
Observe demand in your area
The first question to ask is who are the potential clients? Like in any new variety of crop, start on a small scale and gradually learn about various microgreen varieties locally needed. The emerging trend of veganism, vegetarianism, Ayurveda, Yoga, natural living, natural medicine, and therapy is encouraging clean and healthy diet trends. Therefore, the medical fraternity, food menus, F&B products, grocery stores, and supply chains are adapting to make quality and healthy food more accessible.
Demand in most global and Indian cities for microgreens comes from:
Local cafes, restaurants, and hotels
A B2B business model is feasible as microgreens can be supplied to the hospitality segment.
A B2C business model is also viable where you sell to the customers directly like farm markets, residential societies, vegetable sellers, and eventually upgrade to a shop.
To upscale traction, innovations in microgreens-related products like salads, soups, regional snacks, cultural festival food stalls, and other cuisines offer room for innovation. This can not only expand the consumer base but also help delight existing customers with adaptations.
Consider Space Requirements & Growing Method
You can start your micro framing project on a small scale, in your backyard or rooftop, and upscale gradually as your farm grows.
You can choose from or integrate the following 2 growing methods in microgreens farming-
1. Vertical farming using hydroponics
Urban vertical farming is a space-efficient technique for microgreens farming. It involves the use of hydroponics, water-based growing tubes installed vertically to preserve space and ensure systematic irrigation. Plants are grown using a no soil medium with the help of water. A nutrient-rich solution is added to water to ensure optimum nutrition. Here is everything you need to learn about the hydroponics home learners kit.
2. Container Gardening
Container gardening or the use of trays serves as a cost and user-friendly microgreens farming technique. Check how to set up a container garden. Microgreens require far less space than regular row crops and make for a preferred choice for urban farmers due to restricted space. The short gestation period and growing cycle from seed to shop take only about two to three weeks for most microgreen seed varieties.
LED lighting for indoor microgreens farming
According to scientific research, adding LED lighting enables customization of the spectral composition to match plant photoreceptors and optimize production, plant morphology, and nutrient content. The LEDs provide a uniform distribution of light as compared to fluorescent tubes and hence, are useful for indoor microgreens farming setup.
Our detailed blog on how to grow microgreens at home gives comprehensive clarity on the operational setup.
Check out our most popular selection of microgreen seed varieties to choose from
Learn more about varieties in demand
Once you have identified your potential client base, try to survey their recurring microgreens demand to maintain an effective supply chain. Growing needs will help plan the requisite microgreen seed varieties calendar. Record & monitor performance of several varieties to analyze and enhance output.
Help your clients understand the difference between microgreens and sprouts whenever proposing partnerships.
Harvesting at the right time
Microgreens can be harvested once they have produced a second s true leaves with a plant height of about 3-4 inches. Harvest carefully with a sharp knife to avoid wilting. Rinse the harvested microgreens to get rid of leftover seed hulls and soil for a clean and ready-to-consume crop.
Microgreens shelf life
Selling microgreens while they are still rooted in the growing medium prolongs their shelf life. Once harvested, microgreens need a cold temperature range to retain quality. Depending on storage conditions, quality can comply for more than two weeks.
Packaging is important to retain freshness
Harvested microgreens become prone to dehydration and wilting, which may follow the loss of some nutrients. The combination of adequate cold chain and suitable modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) is essential to prevent moisture loss, reduce environmental contamination, and inhibit the growth of spoilage and pathogenic microorganisms. Research suggests that postharvest quality can also be maintained by harvesting at the right maturity, reducing microbial infection through sanitation and gentle handling.
Gather essential equipment (one time & recurring costs)
Most budgeting for your microgreens farming setup involves one-time costs for-
Vertical farming system
Containers/ trays or grow bags
Plant labels and markers
Recurring Costs include-
Water-soluble nutrients if using hydroponics
Paper towels to remove postharvest humidity
Quality microgreen seeds
Post-harvest packaging boxes
Start growing & selling
Mitigate beginner doubts with quality information-
- Health benefits of microgreens and growing tips
- Expert tips on how to solve common microgreen problems
- Estimating, cost output and revenue
Cost: Microgreen farming does not involve capital-intensive equipment like tractors, making the startup costs very affordable.
Output: Stacking trays in a vertical farming setup optimizes space four to five times. This makes microgreens more pragmatic and profitable for urban growers. 30 to 40 gms is the average harvest from a 10″ x 20″ tray. Approximately 20 kgs can be harvested in two weeks on a 60 square foot balcony.
Revenue: Based on the city and demand, INR 50 per 100 gms can sell for INR 500 per kg, beating all other vegetable selling prices.
Most popular microgreens for commercial growing in India include these
Non-treated seeds for growing microgreens, including these varieties and many more, are available at discounted prices in bulk at AllThatGrows. Send us your queries on our Bulk Order Form today.
We recommend getting started with these top commercial microgreen varieties that are not only easy to grow but are also on the hottest selling list.