InFarm2.x: Data enabled vertical farming with minimal waste and emissions and maximum efficiency and crop nutrition

Abstract

Global population is expected to grow to 9.8Bn by 2050 with 7Bn of these people living in urban areas. Providing nutritious food for all in a resource and energy efficient manner is becoming increasingly challenging. Arable land to grow crops is becoming more scarce with a third of usable land lost in the last 40 years due to soil degradation (Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures, 2015).

Vertical farming whereby crops are grown indoors in stacked trays under controlled environments can provide a viable large scale alternative to traditional agriculture. Vertical farming gives growers the ability to fully control all the things needed to produce healthy plants including heat, light and water. As such, the systems can be tailored for year round growth and use significantly less water and energy than traditional farming. Additionally, no insecticides or pesticides need to be used. Another significant advantage is location; vertical farms can be located in both rural and urban environments to ensure the produce is a close to the consumer as possible, reducing food miles and therefore contributing to net zero emissions targets.

Our project will be led by Infarm, a highly successful vertical farming business who have commercialised vertical farming systems to produce nutritious and healthy leafy salads and herbs. Retailers and consumers want more fresh produce grown in this way including peas, beans, tomatoes, strawberries, chillies and carrots. However, these products often have more complex growth cycles and needs requiring more condition control and monitoring.

We aim to develop and optimise systems to grow a wider variety of fruit and vegetables than at present. We will optimise our growing spaces to include additional gas sensors and monitoring cameras to allow us to monitor the growth cycles and changes to varying crops to work out the perfect growing conditions.

Once we have developed the Infarm2.x system and processes, we will trial the project outputs in our small scale in-store systems where produce goes straight from growing to the consumer, cutting out the need for expensive, energy intensive transport.

We will work with key partners to provide the technology and scientific research expertise needed to enhance our growing spaces (RoboScientific and, Newcastle University) and key UK food retailer Marks and Spencer to facilitate trials and advise on end user needs.

Lead Participant

Project Cost

Grant Offer

Infarm - Indoor Urban Farming UK Limited £3,743,115 £ 1,871,558
 

Participant

Marks and Spencer P.L.C., LONDON £82,975 £ 41,488
RoboScientific Limited, Amersham £606,224 £ 424,357
Newcastle University, United Kingdom £990,573 £ 990,573

Publications

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