Researchers from Institute for Environmental Solutions (IES) in cooperation with organic farming experts SIA “Field and Forest” develops innovative technologies for growing ginseng and Chinese horseradish in Latvia’s climate conditions. The knowledge acquired in this research will be used by tea producers to develop new value-added products.
Ginseng (Panax sp.) and Chinese horseradish (Angelica sinensis) are two medicinal and aromatic plants (MAPs) with a high demand in the world market. At the same time, these plants mostly have been harvested in wild. To reduce pressure on wild populations, as well as ensure sufficient amount of high-quality plant-based materials for different industries, IES’s researchers in cooperation with organic farming experts SIA “Field and Forest” develop suitable methods for commercial cultivation.
For the last four years researchers have gained valuable knowledge to pass on to the entrepreneurs. Leading researcher Dr Arta Kronberga explains the importance of research results: “By following cultivation guidelines that we are developing within this research, entrepreneurs can obtain raw material with stable quality. Thus, enabling them to develop new business niches and products with high-demand in the world market.”
Medicinal and aromatic plant adaptation for commercial cultivation is a highly developed research direction in the Institute for Environmental Solutions. Both Ginseng and Chinese horseradish are perennial plants. The most valuable part of these plants is root, and it takes at least 4 years to mature. Therefore, during this time researchers are not able to assess how different growing conditions impact the harvest. To evaluate how different growing conditions impact plant development and yield researchers experiment with multiple cultivation methods in many small fields. For example, ginseng is growing in forest ecosystem and field conditions under specially designed shadowing construction. Researchers also experiment with seed preparation and germination, planting, maintaining and soil treatment methods. After harvesting, researchers will be able to compare the results in each of the trials by selecting the most successful cultivation approaches.
Growing methods can directly impact the active compound concentration of the yield. Although harvesting of ginseng is planned only in autumn 2021, the IES's chemical laboratory has carried out a first chemical composition analysis of its samples. Dr Arta Kronberga highlights: “final chemical composition tests are planned for autumn, but first results show high concentration of valuable active compounds. These results ensures that ginseng grown in Latvia’s climate conditions is suitable as a plant-based material for tea production industry.”
The chemical composition analysis results give an important information to the tea producers SIA “Bargi” – that not only the taste of the tea have a high quality, but its medicinal value as well. Until now, for the tea product prototype development SIA “Bargi” have used raw materials of ginseng and Chinese horseradish that are available in the world market. It is concluded that the quality of these plant materials differs. For example, not all the samples contain the minimal concentration levels of active compounds that are listed in European pharmacopoeia (reference work for the quality control of medicines).
Dr Arta Kronberga explains why raw plant material from IES’s experimental fields are more suitable for tea product development: “Within this research we have developed growing technologies that allows to achieve plant potential – maximum concentration of active compounds. Thus, allowing tea producers to develop product with stable quality.”
Innovative methods for cultivation of ginseng and Chinese horseradish is developed as a part of the project “Developmend of innovative technologies for cultivation and food production of ginseng (Panax spp.) and Chinese horseradish (Angelica sinensis)” No. 17-00-A01620-000008, which is supported by EU European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development, Rural Development Programme.
More about the project here.