The impact of plant nutrients on food quality in Vertical Farming

A JakajimaTV interview with Kristian Holst Laursen, University of Copenhagen. He is the leader of the the research group in Plant Nutrients and Food Quality.

This research group bridges plant and food science using advanced analytical chemistry.
Food quality is a complex trait covering a wide array of characteristics including nutrient content and bioavailability, protein level, amino acid composition and the presence of potentially toxic compounds such as heavy metals. We develop analytical methods that enable us to investigate key factors controlling the quality of plant based food and feed. Our goal is to provide new knowledge and recommendations regarding sustainable and resource efficient plant production that simultaneously delivers safe, authentic and nutritious food.

Research themes of this group are:

Theme 1 – Food quality
Our studies on food quality embrace research activities from farm to fork. We investigate the impacts of management practice and fertilization strategy on the nutritional value of plant-based foods from various plant production systems. This includes organic and conventional agriculture as well as urban farming systems. We conduct studies at field scale, in greenhouses/climate chambers and collaborate with companies specialized in hydroponics and aeroponics.

Theme 2 – Plant nutritional aspects of food quality
We aim to understand fundamental biochemical and plant nutritional processes and pathways influencing the quality of plant-based food and feed. We study key factors controlling the nutritional status of plants including soil fertility, agricultural management practices and fertilization rate and type.

Theme 3 – Analytical method development
Most of our work is based on advanced analytical chemistry – in particular multi-element and stable isotope ratio analysis. Our current multi-element analyses are based on inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) and ICP-optical emission spectroscopy (ICP-OES). In collaboration with research groups at the section, and colleagues from the CHIME analytical center, we have during the past years developed micro-scaled and high-throughput methods covering the majority of elements from the periodic table.

About Kristian Holst Laursen
My scientific focus areas are plant nutrients, food quality, analytical chemistry and chemometrics. I have developed analytical methods for multi-elemental and isotopic characterization of plants using state-of-the-art ICP-OES, ICP-MS, MC-ICP-MS and IRMS. These methods have proven valuable for authenticating the geographical and agricultural origin of plant products. In parallel, I have been involved in several research projects aimed at unravelling the functional roles of essential nutrients in plant metabolism.

Kristian will be one of the speakers at the Vertical Farming Conference.

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