Vertical farming: a future way to feed urban populations? | FT Food Revolution

By 2050 it’s estimated there’ll be over 6.5 billion people living in urban spaces, and vertical farming could play a growing role in feeding them. The farms use far less space, water, and transport than traditional methods of farming, although their power consumption is a constant challenge. Persis Love travels to Germany and the UK to explore the sector’s developing technologies and business models.

By 2050 more than 6.5 billion people globally are expected to be living in urban spaces an enormous challenge for traditional methods of food production but vertical farming could form part of the solution i’m in berlin and i’m on my way to a supermarket where they have installed vertical farming units and have grown produce directly in store the company behind

These vertical farms says they go through 95 percent less water than traditional farms and reduce transportation by 90 percent so this is in farm which is the startup creating these vertical farming units that we just saw in the supermarket and we’re going to go inside and see how the business works in farms units can now be found in nine countries and the

Company has raised over 100 million dollars in funding since it was founded in 2013. hello emmanuel we provide the technology we provide the farm we grow the plants and we harvest the plants and what we offer to the retailer are the plants themselves infarm now has more than 900 farming units in stores and distribution centers around the world more than 250

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000 plants are harvested from the units each month but each plant’s growing conditions can be controlled from here in berlin with self-automated it’s also communicated with a cloud when we can control it remotely everything from temperature to humidity light intensity here they believe overall efficiency and resource use can offset initial startup costs and

Ongoing expenses such as the energy needed to power ventilation and led lights i mean you need to look at the entire package not only about how much those leds consume because yes of course we are not growing in in the sun and we have consumption of energy however leds technologies are really evolving over the time energy saving techniques are improving like

Tuning lighting to different wavelengths for different crops in the short term the kovid 19 crisis could actually bolster demand for vertical farming as its supply chain is shorter and less reliant on human labor than traditional agriculture infarm itself saw 200 growth for sales in march 2020 against march 2019. longer term global revenue and vertical farming

Is expected to exceed 22 billion by 2026 according to global market insights i’ve come to the uk to see a different kind of vertical farming technology driving down these country lanes just makes me think you know not that far from now will we be getting all of our produce from vertical farms in urban locations who knows lettuce grow in bristol was founded in

2015 it supplies vertical farms to farmers and growers as well as ongoing software and operations support i think this must be it it’s really not what you would expect for a farm isn’t it but i guess this is a proper startup hello hi person thanks lettuce grow specializes in aeroponics where plants are grown using a fine mist containing water and nutrients

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Using our aeroponic technology we’ve shown that we can increase the growth rate of crops compared to hydroponics by more than 70 in leafy herbs and leafy greens the energy inputs currently required for vertical farming make it difficult to turn a profit on anything but high value herbs and leafy greens but backers do see potential at the beginning of the year

The company secured 2.9 million dollars in seed funding so as a grower you would buy your your unit which would look something like this yep you’ll buy the unit it comes in the the controlled environment chamber with everything in here and you see to get growing from day one and then we provide software services and maintenance services ongoing we’re now at the

Point of commercializing this and working with farmers and growers all around the country but i’ve got one last stop to make a rooftop in west london at square mile farms they’ve put corporate engagement at the very heart of their business model we install farms into workplaces and get the employees involved in the harvesting and the seeding etc and they get

To take the fresh produce home with them and they also learn a little bit on the way as well despite the lockdown the startup has continued putting live farmwares into offices but the plan is to eventually scale things up we’re working with a range of ftse 100 companies and we are trying to build up a community and a tribe around our brand through corporate

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Engagement and maybe 18 months two years down the line when we raise capital again we can then build that large vertical farm and mass produce but we’ll be able to sell a higher price point with so many startup companies working in unique ways within the vertical farming industry there’s little doubt that it’s here to stay what will be fascinating will be to

See quite how much these business models will work alongside traditional methods of farming and how much they will replace them

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Vertical farming: a future way to feed urban populations? | FT Food Revolution By Financial Times

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