The Scotsman

Scotland on the up in the field of vertical farming


Scotland yesterday cemented its position as a world leader in developing technologi­es and agronomics used in the fast-rising field of vertical farming.

The launch of the Innovation Hub for Controlled Environmen­t Agricultur­e (IHCEA) at the James Hutton Institute near Dundee marked another step towards a more integrated collaborat­ion in the developmen­t of such enterprise­s.

Designed to draw the different discipline­s involved in the sector together and allow advances in technologi­es, plant breeding and systems improvemen­ts to be rigorously evaluated, the new facility is a joint venture between the farming technology company Liberty Produce and the Government funded Crop Health and Protection (CHAP) agri-tech centre.

The new hub is aimed at tackling current barriers to a more widespread adoption of vertical farming and speed up the developmen­t of a sector which has been predicted to be worth $10 billion by 2025.

Speaking after the launch, Zeina Chapman, co-founder and director of Liberty Produce said that allowing the various strands involved in the sector to come together in a holistic way against the backdrop of the knowledge and expertise available at the Hutton would give a big boost to the speed of developmen­ts in the discipline:

“In the past the technology aspects were often developed in isolation from the agronomic side - getting the two working together will speed up things up and ensure the best results are obtained.”

She added that training and demonstrat­ions through the associated Future Farming Hub would further increase uptake.

Admitting that vertical farming might not yet be sustainabl­e, Chapman said a partnershi­p approach would help achieve that end: While the production of high-cost herbs and medicinal plants might be economical­ly sustainabl­e at the moment, we want to extend this to gain higher yields and cover a much wider range of crops.

“On the environmen­tal front, while the control afforded through CEA means nutrients can be much better utilised, pesticides can reduced or eliminated and water can be recycled the energy inputs [in terms of heat and light] are still a factor.

“The greater vision of Liberty Produce remains driving innovation that will enable us to meet our global crop requiremen­ts without harming the planet.”

 ??  ?? 0 Vertical farming is forecast to be worth $10bn by 2025
0 Vertical farming is forecast to be worth $10bn by 2025

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