Proponents of vertical farming have hailed it as a significant development for agriculture, capable of delivering sustainable and secure food production with environmental and efficiency benefits.
The emerging sector involves crops grown in stacked indoor systems. It has seen a surge in developments this year and could become a key component in the long-term agricultural mix.
Aberdeenshire is the location of one of Scotland's first large-scale vertical farms. The sector is forecast to grow significantly over the next decade, and more than £1.4 billion has been invested in vertical farming globally since 2014.
On 11 November, ONE Food Drink & Agriculture will explore the vertical farming revolution in a webinar with the people at the forefront of its development in north east Scotland: Graeme Warren of Vertegrow and Polly Purvis from Intelligent Growth Solutions.
The North East Scotland Food & Drink Network webinar will explore the latest developments in indoor farming and how vertical farms can expand the range of crop output, to provide year-round supplies for retail, hospitality, catering and food processing.
Peter Cook, director of Food, Drink and Agriculture at Opportunity North East, said: “Vertical farming is currently a small but fast-growing sector in global agriculture. Aberdeenshire is at the forefront of its development in Scotland with interest from both growers and technology providers, and with one of the country’s first large-scale vertical farms under development. This session provides an opportunity to hear direct from the people and businesses at the leading edge of this technology-driven growing system. Does it offer the promised efficiency, environment and sustainability benefits? We will learn about the technology, economics and how crops from vertical farms can integrate with local supply chains for foodservice, retail and processors seeking fresh and specialist ingredients.”
The webinar runs from 9.30 am to 10.45 am on Wednesday, 11 November.
The North East Scotland Food & Drink Network is delivered by Opportunity North East (ONE) in partnership with Aberdeenshire Council.
Vertegrow is an early adopter of vertical farming technology on a commercial scale and is building one of the first large-scale vertical farms in Scotland. The investment represents a diversification of their existing arable farm at Waterside in Aberdeenshire, which grows barley and rye for brewing and distilling. Under the banner “Plants, People, Planet”, Vertegrow is focussed on growing in a way which is both environmentally and financially sustainable.
The need for shorter, visible supply chains has been important for some time but has been thrown into sharper focus in 2020 with the issues exposed by the current pandemic and with Brexit having the potential to cause further disruption. Vertegrow is seeking to address these challenges whilst also applying the benefits of the vertical farm to develop a crop mix which is tasty, fresh and nutritious.
Scottish based business Intelligent Growth Solutions (IGS) has developed one of the most advanced vertical farming systems, which harnesses many of the technologies that underpin the fourth industrial revolution, to create much more sophisticated growing environments.
Plants are grown in growth trays, suspended vertically one above the other in ‘growth towers’, enabling a range of crops to be grown in parallel, offering significant flexibility and allowing for just-in-time growing and year-round delivery. This form of farming is also environmentally beneficial, removing the need for pesticides and insecticides, at the same time as ensuring zero emissions and highly efficient fresh-water use.
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