A new vertical farm is being launched in South East London by Vertical future, which could mark a giant leap forward in food production efficiency for the sector.
The innovative farming method requires no pesticides, herbicides or fungicides, and minimal human interaction, and, when implemented correctly uses far less of the planet’s resources and significantly less water, while producing much closer to the point of consumption.
Vertical farming operations can exist in disused urban and rural spaces, distribute food on a local basis, allowing them to lower transportation times and reduce emissions.
Vertical Future’s new 1,500m3 farm provides a yield increase of 172% per m3 and approximately 60% less energy consumption compared to other vertical farms, making it one of the most efficient in the world.
The firm has has brought together both automated technological hardware advances and smart-learning systems – all designed in-house and manufactured in the UK.
Its ‘Diana’ software system works in tandem with thousands of sensors to monitor individual crop growth and optimise production at a granular level, including the use of radio-frequency identification (RFID). The system automatically adjusts lighting wavelength and intensity, nutrient concentration and distribution, and water flow rate, in addition to many other variables. If a crop needs a change in light, the software works with 5 different forms of LED lights to automatically adjust the combinations and intensity.
On the reduced carbon footprint the farming method can produce, Vertical Future founder and CEO Jamie Burrows explained: “Hundreds of seeds of micro broccoli have the same footprint as one seed for a full head of broccoli but if you harvest broccoli at 10 to 15 days maturity, it has 40 times more vitamin K and far higher levels of sulforaphane.”
Vertical Future’s production system currently has over 100 pipeline projects across four continents currently under discussion, with several already underway, alongside research and development programme. Mr Burrows said the new site is the next exciting step in Vertical Future’s journey to improve the long-term health of the planet and its inhabitants “one leaf at a time”.
He added: “We have launched an advanced, intelligent, end-to-end system providing superior tasting and better crops for the future – for both food and pharmaceutical production – at an affordable price-point. Exploitation of land, loss of biodiversity, and overuse of the earth’s natural resources are damaging to our environment and vertical farming offers one long-term solution.
“We take vertical farming a giant leap further, adopting a holistic approach by offering fully automated and intelligent systems that offer endless possibilities.”