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"Our expertise lies in the ‘brains’ of hybrid vertical farming technology"

“This project is one of a number initiated by the Singapore government that will look at high-tech farming solutions as a way to increase its food security,” Dylan Banks, Co-Founder of Liberty Produce, said.

“Issues persist in the food sector’s supply chain because we are not using our planet’s resources sustainably – ultimately, we are in a race between the technological developments that will ultimately allow for us to exist sustainably, and the damage and harm that we’re causing to the planet in the meantime,” he said. “Liberty Produce’s goal to integrate Totally Controlled Environment Agriculture (TCEA) systems with high-precision controlled environment technologies to drive the industry toward high-quality, low-cost negative carbon food production," Dylan adds. 

Founded in 2018, Liberty Produce develops lighting systems designed to reduce the carbon footprint of TCEA systems. This is done by integrating water cooling to significantly reduce the energy burden on HVAC systems and prolong the life of LEDs. The lighting systems are integrated into its full-scale shipping container-based R&D TCEA system. 

The recently awarded Innovate UK funding grant will see it jointly lead a project to advance Singapore’s food security goals, along with Singapore-based LivFresh. Supported by the JHI and Republic Polytechnic Singapore, the company has serious ambitions to assist Singapore in increasing its production of fresh produce by 30% by 2030. Dylan called the project Liberty Produce’s first stage milestone towards net-zero food production but acknowledges the challenges that face the sector at large in moving toward this goal. 

Hybrid solution
“But technology alone is not enough, we also need scientific research, engineering innovation, commercial viability and knowledge-sharing on a broad scale. Dylan sees the Singapore project as a step in the right direction with its focus on drawing together expertise developed in discrete channels to produce a solution that has the potential to deliver more than could be achieved by any organization independently. It also helps to position Liberty Produce as a leading AgriTech company with a global scope.

“Our expertise lies in the ‘brains’ of hybrid vertical farming technology: control systems and software, incorporating everything from lighting systems and feedback control to algorithms, sensor capabilities and machine learning,” Dylan said. “When twinned with the work being done by other highly creative and innovative organizations in this sector, we really think the sky is the limit when it comes to what we can collectively achieve with AgriTech in terms of sustainability and food democracy.”

Indoor-grown blueberries

Blueberry trial
Liberty Produce’s systems are a built-in partnership with CHAP and based at the James Hutton Institute (JHI) and have already demonstrated significant value. A joint blueberry trial conducted with the JHI demonstrated that blueberry germination could be reduced from ten weeks in a glasshouse to 21 days in a TCEA system.

The joint JHI blueberry trial was a key turning point for the company, both in validating its hybrid approach to optimizing plant growth via TCEA; and in a wider sense, supporting its belief that collaboration between industry, research organizations and academia is key to the sustainability and net-zero goals of the future of agriculture.

Liberty Produce determined that there was a significant demand amongst growers for scaled-down, modular TCEA systems that can demonstrate clear ROI but require smaller initial capital investment to enable them to diversify and modernize effectively. “From here, Liberty has focused its activities on applying its advanced lighting, control and combined systems technologies in the development of smaller, modular systems that would give growers the ability to demonstrate proof of concept; and upgrade and scale-up in line with demand over time,” Dylan noted.

For more information:
Liberty Produce