The Courier & Advertiser (Perth and Perthshire Edition)

Vertical farming movement takes step forward

Invergowri­e site is part of mission to harness game-changing ideas

- NANCY NICOLSON FARMING EDITOR nnicolson@thecourier.co.uk

Scotland took another step towards advancing the vertical farming movement with the launch of a research and developmen­t facility at the James Hutton Institute campus at Invergowri­e.

Farm technology company Liberty Produce yesterday unveiled a £500,000 Innovation Hub for Controlled Environmen­t Agricultur­e which is intended to tackle issues over the establishm­ent and cost of vertical farming, and accelerate developmen­t of sustainabl­e food production through fully-controlled systems.

Liberty Produce co-founder and director Zeina Chapman said initial research on the site was focused on increasing yield – one of the big issues with vertical farms – and decreasing the capital and operationa­l costs of state-ofthe-art agricultur­e.

She added: “At the moment vertical farming is only viable for high-value crops such as herbs and micro greens.

“The large-volume crops such as leafy salads are sill more expensive under this sort of system than being grown in the ground.”

She added that initial research would focus on the developmen­t of intense, energy-efficient lighting systems and integrated water cooling.

The hub was funded by Innovate UK through the agri-tech centre Crop Health and Protection (Chap).

Chap chief executive Fraser Black said it was a prime example of the mission to harness game-changing ideas to solve problems faced by the farming industry.

“This is a progressiv­e step in our ambition to enable the United Kingdom to become a global leader in controlled environmen­t agricultur­e and augment the production of healthy food in a sustainabl­e way,” he said.

JHI’s chief executive, Professor Colin Campbell, described the collaborat­ion with Chap and Liberty Produce as a “fabulous” day for the campus.

He added: “It marks the next step in the growth of the institute’s Open Science Campus initiative and brings new innovative companies to work closely with world-leading science.

“This has been facilitate­d by the Tay Cities Deal announceme­nt to create an Advanced Plant Growth centre at Invergowri­e and our other new investment­s there and builds on our track record of engaging with industry, research partners and the public.”

The JHI site already hosts Intelligen­t Growth Solutions Ltd, a vertical farming company which has won significan­t investment funding since it was launched last year.

 ?? Picture: Dougie Nicolson. ?? A variety of lighting and water-cooling systems are being developed by Liberty Produce.
Picture: Dougie Nicolson. A variety of lighting and water-cooling systems are being developed by Liberty Produce.

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