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Title:
SUBSTRATE FOR THE CULTIVATION OF VEGETABLE PRODUCTS AND FUNCTIONAL FOODS
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2021/084371
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
Substrate (1; 101; 201; 301) for the cultivation of at least one vegetable product (P) in a controlled environment, wherein said substrate (1; 101; 201; 301) comprises a quantity of water intended to ensure the germination and/or the growth of said vegetable product (P).

Inventors:
NOVELLO MARINO (IT)
GUIDOLIN VALERIO (IT)
SCHINETTI MICHELE (IT)
SIMONCELLI PAOLA (IT)
Application Number:
PCT/IB2020/059814
Publication Date:
May 06, 2021
Filing Date:
October 19, 2020
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
NOVELLO S R L (IT)
International Classes:
A01G9/00; A01G9/029; A01G9/24; A01G24/30; A01G24/35; A01G24/44
Domestic Patent References:
WO2019144176A12019-08-01
WO2019018881A12019-01-31
Foreign References:
CA3003437A12018-07-03
EP2719272A12014-04-16
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
ZILIOTTO, Tiziano (IT)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

1) Substrate (1; 101; 201; 301) for the cultivation of at least one vegetable product (P) in a controlled environment, characterized in that said substrate (1; 101; 201; 301) comprises a quantity of water intended to ensure the germination and/or the growth of said vegetable product (P).

2) Substrate (1; 101; 201; 301) according to claim 1, characterized in that said substrate (1; 101; 201; 301) is suited to receive the seeds of said at least one vegetable product (P) or said substrate (1; 101; 201; 301) comprises the seeds of said at least one vegetable product (P).

3) Substrate (1; 101; 201; 301) according to any of the preceding claims, characterized in that said quantity of water is present in a percentage in weight exceeding 30% of the weight of said substrate (1; 101; 201; 301).

4) Substrate (1; 101; 201; 301) according to any of the preceding claims, characterized in that said substrate (1; 101; 201; 301) comprises an identification code.

5) Substrate (1; 101; 201; 301) according to any of the preceding claims, characterized in that said substrate (1; 101; 201; 301) is not edible.

6) Substrate (1; 101; 201; 301) according to claim 5, characterized in that said non-edible substrate (1; 101; 201; 301) comprises: 50% green composted soil conditioner, 25% pumice, 20% silica sand and 5% perlite, and/or a gelling/thickening agent, preferably Gellan Gum, and/or a non-woven fabric and/or nutrients for vegetables, preferably green composted soil conditioner and/or pumice and/or silica sand and/or perlite.

7) Substrate (1; 101; 201; 301) according to any of the claims from 1 to 4, characterized in that said substrate (1; 101; 201; 301) is edible.

8) Substrate (1; 101; 201; 301) according to claim 7, characterized in that said quantity of water is present in a percentage in weight exceeding 90% of the weight of said edible substrate (1; 101; 201; 301).

9) Substrate (1; 101; 201; 301) according to claim 7 or 8, characterized in that said edible substrate (1; 101; 201; 301) comprises: a natural thickening agent, preferably a compound of natural substances derived from cellulosic polysaccharides extracted from fruit skin and various vegetables and/or agar- agar, and/or a natural food preservative, preferably essential oils, and/or a chemical food preservative, preferably potassium sorbate, and/or protein hydrolysates and/or natural food aromas, preferably dry extract of vegetable parts and/or food supplements, preferably vitamins and/or mineral salts and/or a vegetable skeletal structure, preferably comprising luffa and/or rice husks and/or vegetable fibres from food waste, and/or a natural gelling/thickening agent, preferably a compound of natural substances derived from cellulosic polysaccharides extracted from fruit skin and various vegetables and/or agar- agar, and/or a natural food preservative, preferably essential oils, and/or a chemical food preservative, preferably potassium sorbate, and/or protein hydrolysates and/or natural food aromas, preferably dry extract of vegetable parts, and/or food supplements, preferably vitamins and/or mineral salts.

10) Apparatus (50) for the cultivation of vegetable products (P), said apparatus (50) comprising an opening casing (52) suited to receive a substrate (1; 101; 201; 301) for the cultivation of vegetable products (P), characterized in that said substrate (1; 101; 201; 301) is made according to any of the preceding claims. 11) Apparatus (50) according to claim 10, characterized in that said cultivation of vegetable products (52) takes place in a controlled environment.

12) Apparatus (50) according to claim 10 or 11, characterized in that it also comprises:

- aeration means (64) suited to be activated during the germination of said seeds and/or the successive growing step to obtain said products;

- lighting means (70) suited to be activated during the germination of said seeds and/or the successive growing step to obtain said products (P).

13) Apparatus (50) according to any of the claims from 10 to 12, characterized in that it comprises means for the identification of an identification code associated with said substrate.

Description:
SUBSTRATE FOR THE CULTIVATION OF VEGETABLE PRODUCTS AND FUNCTIONAL FOODS

TECHNICAL FIELD OF THE INVENTION The present invention concerns the field of the cultivation of vegetable products. More specifically, the present invention concerns a support for the cultivation of vegetable products.

DESCRIPTION OF THE STATE OF THE ART Techniques for the cultivation of vegetables and/or greens intended to guarantee the procurement of the same in all seasons are known and widely used, for example the known techniques for greenhouse cultivation.

Also the techniques for indoor cultivation above ground, for example in domestic environments, are increasingly widespread, including cultivation techniques known as hydroponic or aeroponic culture.

Above-ground cultivation techniques use special devices, or growth enhancers, which define a controlled environment for the cultivation of vegetable products. Both in greenhouse cultivation and in cultivation through growth enhancers the seeds of the product to be grown are positioned on a cultivation substrate, after which the germination and/or the growth of the desired product take place.

The substrate comprises, for example, compost or a matrix of natural and biodegradable fibres, which is conveniently irrigated, if necessary with the addition of the fertilizers and/or the biological fertilizers needed by the vegetable product to germinate and ripen.

It is the object of the invention to provide a new system, alternative to the systems of the known type, suitable for the cultivation of vegetable products in a controlled environment and simpler and more practical to use, in particular a system used in domestic environments.

It is a further object of the invention to provide a new system for the cultivation of vegetable products in a controlled environment which facilitates the use of the products by the consumer.

SUMMARY OF THE PRESENT INVENTION

According to a first aspect of the present invention, therefore, the same concerns a substrate for the cultivation of at least one vegetable product in a controlled environment, wherein said substrate comprises a quantity of water intended to guarantee the germination and/or the growth of said vegetable product.

Preferably, the substrate is suited to receive the seeds of said at least one vegetable product.

In a preferred embodiment, the substrate comprises the seeds of said at least one vegetable product.

According to a preferred embodiment, the quantity of water is present in a percentage in weight exceeding 30% of the weight of the substrate.

In a preferred embodiment, the substrate comprises an identification code, for example a barcode or a chip.

In a preferred embodiment, the substrate is not edible.

Preferably, the non-edible substrate comprises 50% green composted soil conditioner, 25% pumice, 20% silica sand and 5% perlite.

Preferably, the non-edible substrate comprises a gelling/thickening agent, preferably Gellan Gum.

In a preferred embodiment, the non-edible substrate comprises a non-woven fabric.

The non-edible substrate preferably comprises nutrients for vegetables, preferably green composted soil conditioner and/or pumice and/or silica sand and/or perlite.

In another preferred embodiment, the substrate is edible and constitutes a functional food.

Preferably, the quantity of water is present in the edible substrate in a percentage in weight exceeding 90% of the weight of the substrate. Said percentage is particularly preferable in the case where the substrate has the consistency of a gel.

According to a preferred embodiment, the edible substrate, or functional food, comprises one or more of the following components:

- a natural thickening agent, preferably a compound of natural substances derived from cellulosic polysaccharides extracted from fruit skin and various vegetables and/or agar-agar

- a natural food preservative, preferably essential oils, for example: oregano oil, rosemary oil, thyme oil;

- a chemical food preservative, preferably potassium sorbate;

- protein hydrolysates;

- natural food aromas, preferably dry extract of plant parts;

- food supplements for health and/or sports purposes, preferably vitamins and/or mineral salts. According to another preferred embodiment, the edible substrate comprises one or more of the following components:

- a vegetable skeletal structure, preferably comprising luffa and/or rice husks and/or vegetable fibres from food waste;

- a natural gelling/thickening agent, preferably a compound of natural substances derived from cellulosic polysaccharides extracted from fruit skin and various plants and/or agar-agar;

- a natural food preservative, preferably essential oils, for example: oregano oil, rosemary oil, thyme oil;

- a chemical food preservative, preferably potassium sorbate;

- protein hydrolysates;

- natural food aromas, preferably dry extract of plant parts;

- food supplements for health and/or sports purposes, preferably vitamins and/or mineral salts.

Advantageously, the edible substrate with the cultivated/grown vegetable product and said food supplements for health and/or sports purposes constitute a functional food.

According to another aspect of the invention, the same concerns an apparatus for the cultivation of vegetable products, said apparatus comprising an opening casing suited to receive a substrate for the cultivation of vegetable products carried out as described above.

In a preferred embodiment, the apparatus comprises also:

- aeration means suited to be activated during the stage of germination of said seeds and/or the successive growth stage in order to obtain said products;

- lighting means suited to be activated during the stage of germination of said seeds and/or the successive growth stage in order to obtain said products. Preferably, the apparatus comprises identification means suited to identify an identification code associated with said substrate, preferably a barcode reader. Advantageously, the cultivation of vegetable products takes place in a controlled environment.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Further advantages, objectives and characteristics as well as further embodiments of the present invention are defined in the claims and are clarified below through the following description making reference to the attached drawings; in the drawings, corresponding or equivalent characteristics and/or component parts of the present invention are identified by the same reference numbers. In particular, in the figures:

- Figure 1 shows a substrate for the cultivation of vegetable products according to a preferred embodiment of the invention;

- Figure 2 shows the substrate of Figure 1 with the germinated vegetable products;

- Figure 3 shows a plurality of substrates according to the invention and a support device designed to receive said substrates;

- Figure 4 shows the support device of Figure 3 with the vegetable products sprouted on the respective substrates;

- Figure 5 shows an apparatus for the cultivation of vegetable products in a controlled environment which uses the support device and the substrates of the invention shown in Figure 3;

- Figure 6 shows the exploded view of the apparatus shown in Figure 5;

- Figure 7 shows a plurality of substrates according to the invention and a support device designed to receive said substrates of a variant embodiment of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PRESENT INVENTION Even if the present invention is described below with reference to its preferred embodiments represented in the drawings, the present invention is not limited to the embodiments described below and represented in the drawings. On the contrary, the embodiments described and represented herein clarify some aspects of the present invention, the scope of which is defined in the claims.

The present invention has proven to be particularly advantageous in relation to cultivation above ground in indoor growth enhancers, as described in detail below.

It should, however, be underlined that the present invention is not limited to that type of cultivation. On the contrary, the present invention can be conveniently applied in all those cases requiring the cultivation of vegetable products in a controlled environment, for example in the case of greenhouse cultivation.

Figure 1 shows a substrate 1 according to a preferred embodiment of the invention.

The substrate 1 according to the invention makes it possible to cultivate vegetable products P, as illustrated for example in Figure 2, in which the vegetable products P are shown in an advanced growth stage after germination on the substrate 1.

In a preferred embodiment, the substrate 1 according to the invention includes the seeds of the vegetable product P to be cultivated.

In a preferred variant embodiment, the substrate 1 according to the invention is initially without seeds, which are arranged on/in the substrate in a successive stage of the cultivation process.

The cultivation of a vegetable product P using a substrate 1 according to the invention in a culture above ground in an indoor growth enhancer is described in greater detail below with reference to Figures from 3 to 6.

Figure 3 shows, first of all, a support device 10 which receives a plurality of substrates 1 according to the invention.

The support device 10, in practice, constitutes a container suited to receive one or more substrates 1 for the vegetable products P to be cultivated. For the sake of simplicity, the word “container” will also be used below to indicate the support device 10.

Vegetable products P include any plant suited to be eaten and/or used for ornamental purposes, such as vegetables, greens, mushrooms, flowers etc.

The container 10 comprises a plurality of cultivation compartments 12. Each compartment 12 defines a respective area suited to receive a corresponding substrate 1.

In the preferred embodiment illustrated in the figures, the container 10 comprises twenty-four equal compartments 12 substantially triangular in shape. The compartments 12 and the substrates 1 preferably have the same shape.

In variant embodiments, the shape of the compartments and/or of the substrates can be different, as shown for example in the embodiment of Figure 7.

The embodiment represented in Figure 3, with triangular or substantially triangular compartments, makes it possible to maximize the quantity of substrates 1 which can be inserted in the corresponding compartments 12 of the container 10.

In a preferred embodiment, the substrates 1 already containing the seeds of the vegetable products P to be cultivated are inserted in the corresponding compartments 12 of the support device 10.

In a preferred variant embodiment, the substrates 1 without seeds are inserted in the corresponding compartments 12 of the container 10 and the seeds are successively placed in/on the substrate 1. Figure 4 shows the result of the cultivation process carried out on the container 10, with the grown vegetable product P. The vegetable product P can be the same for each compartment 12 or different for the different compartments, depending on the seeds selected for the corresponding substrate 1.

The container 10 with the substrates 1 inserted inside it is advantageously used in an apparatus 50, or growth enhancer, for the cultivation of vegetable products P, as shown in Figures 5 and 6. More specifically, the apparatus 50 allows vegetable products P to be cultivated in a controlled environment.

The apparatus 50 preferably comprises an opening casing 52. The casing 52 preferably comprises a lower portion 54 and an upper portion 56, preferably opening with respect to the lower portion 54.

The lower portion 54 of the casing 52 is shaped in such a way that it can receive the container 10 with the substrates 1.

Inside the casing 52 there are preferably aeration means 64 suited to be activated in a controlled manner during the stage of germination of the seeds and/or the successive stage of growth.

The aeration means 64 preferably comprise one pair of fans 64a, 64b suited to generate an air flow inside the casing 52.

The apparatus 50 comprises also lighting means 70 suited to be activated during the stage of germination of the seeds and/or the successive stage of growth.

The lighting means 70 comprise a light emitting device 72 and diffuser means 74 suited to diffuse the emitted light.

The diffuser means 74 are positioned in such a way that the light diffused by the diffuser means 74 is diffused in a uniform and indirect manner on the picking area, so that the substrates 1 received in the compartments 12 of the support device 10 are illuminated uniformly.

The light emitting device 72 preferably comprises a set of RGB LEDs. The light emitted by the group of RGB LEDs is thus directed upwards with respect to a normal use of the apparatus 50 positioned horizontally.

The light frequency spectrum emitted by the group of RGB LEDs takes in consideration the cycle stage and the type of product P to be cultivated.

In the embodiment illustrated and described herein, the reflecting surface is constituted by the internal curved reflecting surface 56a of the upper portion 56 of the casing 52.

In order to ensure correct operation, the apparatus 50 is conveniently equipped with control means, not illustrated in the figure, which are suited to act on the aeration means 64 and on the lighting means 70 to control the cultivation parameters of said products to be cultivated.

Even more preferably, the apparatus 50 comprises temperature and/or humidity sensor means.

The signals provided by said sensors allow the control means to conveniently control the activation of the aeration means 64 and of the lighting means 70 to control the cultivation parameters for said products P to be cultivated.

The control means preferably make it possible to carry out a thermal control inside the casing 52, preferably to control the temperature value which is most suitable for the products P to be cultivated over time.

The apparatus 50 of the invention described above thus makes it possible to cultivate vegetable products in a comfortable manner starting from the preparation of the support device 10 and the positioning of one or more substrates 1 with the seeds, possibly even added at a later moment, steps that will be followed by the germination and ripening stages under the automatic control of the cultivation parameters. The control methods vary according to the specific product P to be cultivated and thus to the type of substrate 1 and of seeds used. In a preferred embodiment, the control means are preferably programmed/programmable in order to be able to carry out the suitable control actions for the various types of products P to be cultivated.

According to a particularly preferred embodiment, the substrate 1 of the invention or the package used to contain the substrate 1 is advantageously associated with a univocal identification code, for example a code associated with a label, a barcode, a chip etc.

The identification code preferably contains information regarding the substrate and/or the seeds present in it. For example, the identification code can provide information such as the following: type of substrate, production date, expiry date, type of seeds, parameters useful for the germination and ripening of the seeds.

The apparatus 50 is advantageously provided with identification means suited to identify said code, for example a barcode reader, and therefore is able to decode all the information related to the substrate used for the cultivation of the desired vegetable product and to the product itself.

Based on the collected information, the apparatus 50 can carry out the appropriate control actions on the specific product selected for cultivation (control of the temperature and/or humidity and/or lighting etc).

In addition to the detection means, the apparatus may also comprise a detector designed to detect the colour and/or the height of the product being grown. According to a preferred embodiment, said detector comprises a camera.

Said detector is able to read the colour and/or the height of the vegetable product during its growth and, according to the type of vegetable product, can analyse the growth stage/health conditions of the same, for example it can monitor the product’s height growth rate.

Figure 7 shows possible variant embodiments of substrates 101, 201, 301 according to the invention.

Said substrates 101, 201, 301 differ from the substrate 1 described with reference to the previous figures due to their different shape.

It is evident that in this case the support device 110 is advantageously shaped, with respect to the shape of its compartments 112, 212, 312, so that it can receive the substrates 101, 201, 301 having said new shapes.

More specifically, it is possible to observe a substrate 101 with a substantially circular shape, a substrate 201 with a substantially trapezoidal shape and a substrate 301 with a substantially triangular shape.

According to one of its advantageous aspects, the substrate 1, 101, 201, 201 according to the invention is a pre-hydrated substrate.

Preferably, the substrate comprises a quantity of water suited to guarantee the germination and/or the growth of the vegetable product P.

As already described above, in a preferred embodiment the substrate preferably already comprises the seeds of the vegetable product P to be cultivated. Alternatively, the pre-hydrated substrate is initially without seeds and the seeds are successively placed in/on the substrate in order to allow the cultivation of the vegetable product P.

Advantageously, the use of a pre-hydrated substrate according to the invention allows the autonomous germination and/or growth of the vegetable product until it is picked.

More specifically, the substrate according to the invention can be introduced in a growth enhancer 50, for example as described above with reference to Figures 5 and 6, in which the autonomous germination and/or growth of the vegetable product until it is picked take place with no need for further operations.

The cultivation obtained by means of the substrate which is the subject of the invention is therefore particularly simplified and practical compared to the known systems and facilitates the use of the product by the user.

In a preferred embodiment, the substrate according to the invention is not edible. In this case, preferably, the quantity of water is present in a percentage in weight exceeding 30% of the weight of the non-edible substrate.

According to a preferred embodiment, the non-edible substrate comprises a non- woven fabric.

In a preferred alternative embodiment, the substrate according to the invention is edible.

In a preferred embodiment, the edible substrate has the consistency of a gel. In this case, preferably, the quantity of water is present in a percentage in weight exceeding 90% of the weight of the edible substrate.

The edible substrate, however, can have different consistencies and comprise, for example, suspended elements and/or solid parts in variable percentages.

The quantity of water in general is preferably present in a percentage in weight exceeding 30% of the weight of the edible substrate.

One or more of the following components, or a convenient combination of the same, is/are used to make the non-edible substrate of the invention:

- a base comprising 50% green composted soil conditioner, 25% pumice, 20% silica sand and 5% perlite;

- a gelling/thickening agent, preferably Gellan Gum;

- nutrients for plants, preferably green composted soil conditioner and/or pumice and/or silica sand and/or perlite.

One or more of the following components, or a convenient combination of the same, is/are used to make the edible substrate according to a first preferred embodiment of the invention:

- a natural thickening agent, preferably a compound of natural substances derived from cellulosic polysaccharides extracted from fruit skin and various plants and/or agar-agar;

- a natural food preservative, preferably essential oils, for example: oregano oil, rosemary oil, thyme oil;

- a chemical food preservative, preferably potassium sorbate;

- protein hydrolysates;

- natural food aromas, preferably dry extract of plant parts;

- food supplements for health and/or sports purposes, preferably vitamins and/or mineral salts.

One or more of the following components, or a convenient combination of the same, is/are used to make the edible substrate according to a second preferred embodiment of the invention:

- a vegetable skeletal structure, preferably comprising luffa and/or rice husks and/or vegetable fibres from food waste;

- a natural gelling/thickening agent, preferably a compound of natural substances derived from cellulosic polysaccharides extracted from fruit skin and various plants and/or agar-agar;

- a natural food preservative, preferably essential oils, for example: oregano oil, rosemary oil, thyme oil;

- a chemical food preservative, preferably potassium sorbate;

- protein hydrolysates;

- natural food aromas, preferably dry extract of plant parts;

- food supplements for health and/or sports purposes, preferably vitamins and/or mineral salts.

A particular advantageous use of the substrate according to the invention is related to the cultivation of the so-called microgreens, for example baby leaves, sprouts etc. The germination and/or growth of the product is guaranteed, as already explained, by the quantity of water that pre-hydrates the substrate. The vegetable product P is preferably nourished by the composition of the seed from which it germinates.

In the case where the substrate contains vegetable protein hydrolysates, as explained above, the germination and/or the growth of the plants is/are facilitated even further.

Advantageously, in the case of use of an edible substrate, following the autonomous germination and growth of the vegetable product P, the product and the substrate can be picked and consumed directly, as they actually make up a food portion.

The components used for the substrate such as, for example, protein hydrolysates or food aromas or food supplements, also make it possible to provide each food portion with a particular characteristic in terms of taste and/or nutritional properties and at the same time provide a completely natural food which is genuine and healthy.

The above clearly shows that the support according to the invention allows the set objects to be achieved.

In particular, it is clear that the proposed solution makes the cultivation of vegetable products in a controlled environment simpler and more practical compared to the known systems. Even if the invention has been described with reference to the attached drawings, upon implementation it can be subjected to modifications, all of which fall within the inventive concept expressed in the following claims and are therefore protected by this patent.