The key advantage of vertical farming, the increase in space efficiency, is of particular interest for agriculture in cities. Open green space is a rarity, especially in rapidly densifying metropolises. Growing produce in stacked beds instead of regular farming can partially offset the disadvantage of missing urban farmland. It seems inconceivable that urban farmers can or will bypass vertical farming technology if they aim to generate substantially higher yields. Therefore, it is no surprising that some foresee a great potential for this technology in near future. Several research and development programs have indicated this development. However, the expected growth within the vertical farming market can also be associated with the overall technology cost-effectiveness, rising demand for food on a global level or the optimized growth conditions.
Optimized Growth Conditions with Automated Farming Systems Allow Further Yield Increases
Still, there is further room for improvement. Multiplying the cultivated area is one out of various options in order to harvest more green food. Urban Crop Solutions, a global turnkey solution provider in automated plant growth infrastructure and plant growth recipes, is trying to get out the best of every square meter. Within their offered standard growth container, it is possible to provide much better growth conditions and address the specific needs of a chosen plant to a high degree.
A Wide Variety of More Than 180 Crops are Suitable for Cultivation
Essential Advantages Result in More Efficiency and Higher Yields
Energy-efficient LEDs with an ideal spectrum selectively provide optimal radiation for photosynthesis
Conditioned indoor climate with monitored air flows promotes plant growth and improves flavor
Automated and monitored cultivation processes for an efficient, optimized and reliable production
Thanks to the integrated and automated farming system, it is also possible to streamline the whole growing process from seed to harvest. The fully automated nutrient delivery or cutting, packaging and irrigation system reduces human interactions and thus wage costs. A connection to the outside world enables to monitor the growth cycle from any place in the world. The logical consequence is not only a higher area yield due to shorter growing cycles. It is also possible to reduce water consumption or manpower requirements significantly, cultivate more than 180 different plants or influence the crop’s flavor.
Harvesting Crops Year-Round From Iceland to Quater Due to the Fully Insulated & Climate Controlled Containers
For those who can do without open lush green and the typical urban farming atmosphere with all its social and recreational benefits, they can go for this efficiently organized way of farming with shortened growth cycles and higher yields.
FarmPro Farming Container
FarmPro, a 40 ft fully automated farming system, quadruples the cultivation area and protects the crops with an insulation from the outer climate – hot, cold or polluted. Between 1,600 and 3,600 crops per cycle await the harvest – depending on the plant variety. The irrigation and climate system, as well as plant suited LEDs are responsible for optimal growing conditions. A handling area and technical room offer room for human interactions and technical equipment.
PlantFactory for Ambitious Objectives
Urban farmers with much bigger plans may acquire a taste for the PlantFactory. With a maximum of 24 layers and a size of up to 130,000 square meters, urban farming becomes a large-scale industrial project. Supplying the immediate neighborhood gets more realistic with the resulting production capabilities and potentialities. PlantFactory can be adapted to local space conditions and specific user needs in order to achieve the greatest possible yield of the chosen crop. Seeding lines, replanting systems, packaging or washing streets can be incorporated as options.
Urban Crop Solutions, officially founded 2014 in Beveren-Leie (Belgium) under the former name Urban Crops, started its first production in March 2015. At the beginning, the initial product offering consisted of LED grow lights, which are able to increase the minerals and vitamins in the crops and thus the yields. The engineering process of PlantFactory and FarmPro was following mid of 2015.
“Opening an office in the US became a necessity as we received numerous requests from the American continent”, says Maarten Vandecruys, managing director of Urban Crop Solutions. “Our grow systems and business model make it possible for all people that have interest in the agri-food, medicinal industry or any other industrial crop production to start its own production activities leveraging on our proven know-how on plant science and plant grow infrastructure.” Pieter De Smedt, US country manager adds: “Supplying qualitative and innovative solutions, products and services is our core strength. Our US presence is thus a very important factor if we want to service our clients and sales agents from this continent.”