The collaboration between Idromeccanica Lucchini and ENEA, first of all led to experimentation on vertical farming and subsequently to the idea of Cultipharm, has ancient origins in time and stems from the need to improve cultivation techniques to obtain better products with a very low environmental impact. As the architect Gabriella Funaro recalls, the first idea of vertical cultivation was born from the observation of the endless cultivations of Pachino tomatoes in Sicily which, while representing a territorial excellence, have an enormous environmental impact. The same crop, in fact, developed vertically, would allow a substantial saving of soil and plastic materials for mulching which otherwise pour into the sea due to their dispersion and degradation.
Superbotanicals for the pharmaceutical industry
Since then, the Lucchini experimentation has made many steps forward and today, with the cultivation in showcases and in phytotron, it has developed to build a real business model in the field of nutraceuticals, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and coloring pigments. . The cultivation in glass cases inside the phytotron has allowed the development of botanical species for extraction, particularly interesting for the specific active ingredients. The controlled environment of the phytotron has allowed an important increase in yield of botanical species and, at the same time, a greater concentration of active ingredients. Precisely for these typical characteristics of the Cultipharm system, Alessandro Algeri coined the term "Superbotanicals", since, to all intents and purposes,
How Superbotanicals are grown
The plants selected to become Superbotanicals are generally plants with a high growth rate and that do not exceed 90/100 cm in height. This allows both to make the most of the vertical cultivation spaces, and to keep the plant inside the phytotron for a limited time with greater general control of cultivation. The phytotrons within which the Superbotanicals are grown are real microcosms controlled remotely, which can be programmed with all the specific variables to optimize the growth of the plant. Through the remote control it is possible to establish: the hours of light and the type of lighting, the temperature, the humidity, the air flow and the type of fertigation to be administered to the Superbotanicals. At the same time, the types of substrate to be used, the stress inputs of the plant, and everything needed to allow it to best express its active ingredients can be controlled. All these parameters can be modulated inside the phytotron, in order to experience the best conditions for each botanist and obtain the highest quality.
More production cycles
Since the phytotron is an extremely controlled environment, the Cultipharm model allows to act on every class of molecules of the plant's active principle. It is possible to work on the “balsamic times” to best express each class of molecule by modifying the environmental factors. Multiple cultivation protocols can be developed for the same botanist, in order to make him better express what is needed each time. In this way, a stable, controlled and guaranteed production is obtained which occurs naturally, without genetic interventions or other manipulations.
Natural respect for the environment
The phytotron of the Cultipharm model is a clean and controlled environment, not influenced by external factors that can compromise the growth and development of the plant such as damage caused by sudden climatic changes. No pathogens can enter the phytotrons, so Superbotanicals are grown without the use of fungicides, pesticides, herbicides or anything else. Which, in addition to making them more sustainable (no soil or groundwater pollution), allows for a “zero residue” certification, technically a recognition of higher added value than traditional organic products. Being cultivated without soil, they cannot be polluted by heavy metals or other toxins present in the soil.
Active ingredients and supplements
Cultipharm's Superbotanicals allow the production of different supplements that can be controlled and certified from seed to extract through to the commercialization process. It is possible to work by extraction but also to use the phytocomplex, the plant obtained with the Cultipharm system is so rich that the concentration in several phases is useless. The active principle thus obtained, being completely natural, is more assimilable and bioavailable. In addition to the concentration of the active ingredients, with the Cultipharm method it is also possible to act to vary the presence of trace elements, in fact the quantities of zinc, copper, or other materials can be increased, without altering the genetics of the plant, but acting in a totally natural way, all without entering into the “novel food” dynamics.