The (sub) tropical plant Indigofera is grown for use as indigo dye. The worldwide growing interest for natural, sustainable textile fibres and dyes shows market opportunities. The textile industry is aware that current indigo cultivation in Asia is not very sustainable.
This feasibility study focused at the technical and economic potential of sustainable greenhouse cultivation of Indigofera. Outdoor cultivation (Asia) produces 30.87-76.72 kg dye/ha. Yield enhancing factors are cultivar, plant stage at harvest, light color during cultivation, day length, plant density, fertilization (N, P), CO2 gift, and hydroponic cultivation. Market price for natural indigo is around 35 euro/kg (6-10 times higher than synthetic indigo). Higher market prices seem possible.
Two greenhouse cultivation variants were calculated: ‘high-tech’ greenhouse cultivation (heated, intense cultivation) and ‘mid-tech’ greenhouse cultivation (container plants, non-heated cultivation). Estimated costs of ‘ high-tech ‘ greenhouse cultivation indigo are 63 €/m2 per year and for ‘mid-tech ‘ greenhouse cultivation 43 €/m2. With current market prices and content levels a leaf production of 10.217 kg/m2/year (hig-tech cultivation) or 7.016 kg/m2/year (mid-tech cultivation) is necessary.
Business case ‘horti indigo’ not feasible yet
When indigo content can be increased through specific cultivation measures, or significant higher prices than the reported market prices can be realized, a business case ‘horti indigo’ will
become feasible. Crucial is commitment from buyers for high market prices and buying amounts.
Sponsor the research: Kenniscentrum Plantenstoffen