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Vertical Farming System Optimises Growing of Pesticide-Free Vegetables in Urban Spaces

Technology Overview

Conventional forms of agriculture can be land-, water-, energy- and greenhouse gas emission-intensive. With growing urban populations and potential disruptions to food supplies, food security has become a pressing issue which has resulted in growing interest to produce food in urban environments. A key challenge of urban agriculture or farming is the limited land availability in urban settings. 

An agri-tech company has developed an innovative vertical farming system that simplifies the process of growing pesticide-free vegetables productively within the constraints of urban spaces. The utilisation of vertical spaces – such as unused or under-utilised spaces like rooftops – uses less space for more produce and enhances the amount of harvest by 70% per sq ft. Compared to conventional farming methods, this technology promises 3.5x more yield with 30% less human effort. 

Technology Features & Specifications

This vertical farming technology comprises a lightweight network of pipes that are arranged in a zig-zag manner to form towers that reach 1.8m in height. Weighing less than 75kg, these farming structures are built to last at least 15 years under tropical climate conditions.

At the base of each tower is a tank filled with water and nutrients. A constant stream of the mixture is pumped up to the top of each tower and gravity causes the liquid to flow down into the tank through the pipes and recycled within the system.

The pipes have holes cut into them, creating pockets that are filled with tiny clay pebbles, which is the growing medium for the plants. 

Using this innovative vertical growing system, the company has piloted commercial urban farming on the rooftop of a multi-storey carpark, and has grown up to 25 different types of vegetables, such as nai bai (dwarf bok choy), kai lan (also known as Chinese broccoli or Chinese kale) and cai xin (a green leafy vegetable similar to kai lan).

Potential Applications

This vertical farming technology is well suited for the following production scenarios:

  • Commercial growth
  • Private consumption

Company is looking to license the technology to local and overseas companies.

Market Trends and Opportunities

The food and agri-tech sector is a S$5 trillion global industry that is on a rapid growth path.

Customer Benefits

The benefits of this vertical farming system include the following: 

  • Pesticide-free: No pesticides are used to grow vegetables.
  • Zero waste: Water is absorbed and recycled in the system. The fired-clay medium used for growing the vegetables is also reusable, allowing zero wastage. 
  • Space saving: Vertical nature of the system allows the amount harvested to be enhanced by 70% per​ sq-ft, utilising less space for more produce. It offers 3.5x more yield with 30% less human effort as compared to traditional farming methods. 
  • Energy saving: The amount of electricity used to operate the system is reduced due to its efficiency-driven structural design.
  • Anti-mosquito breeding: The water within the system is constantly in motion, preventing breeding of mosquitoes in hot and humid climates. 
  • Customisable: The height and size of the vertical growing system can be adjusted and customised to fit the requirements of the environment.
  • Labour-saving: Uses less than half the manpower needed for traditional farming.
  • Saves water: Uses 1/10 of the amount of water used in hydroponic systems.
  • Optimised for agriculture sustainability: Vertical growing system can be used in urban areas that include unused or under-utilised spaces.
  • Mobility: Farm can be dismantled and reassembled quickly.

 

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