Scotland's Rural College (SRUC) will be the first higher education institute in Scotland to open a vertical farm for research and education. SRUC will build the half-million-pound facility at its King’s Buildings campus in Edinburgh next year.
The project, which has received a £200,000 grant from the Scottish Government, will be used in key research into plant and crop science and will also be used by students. The project will be going out to tender in the coming weeks.
Benefiting to Scotland's agriculture
Mairi Gougeon, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Islands said: “As we look to produce more fruits and vegetables locally, vertical farming could provide us with a way to make better use of our land. It’s an exciting and innovative field that could bring us real benefits and it is important that we have the skills in Scotland to take advantage of this technology.
“By supporting the industry at an early stage, we can assess these benefits and help to focus our long-term strategy. We will also be reaching out to the wider industry to explore in further detail the opportunities low-carbon vertical farming offers. We will work together to establish the future of vertical farming in Scotland.”
“One of the most critical challenges we face is how to feed a growing global population," Professor Wayne Powell, Principal and Chief Executive of SRUC. "We have been teaching farmers for generations but, as the population increases, it is important that we look at growing different, more nutritious crops to support healthy diets and local access to food."
According to Wayne, the vertical farming unit will not only be a valuable asset to its students, but will also provide them with important data to help optimize and promote innovation into this expanding industry.
The facility will grow nutrient-dense fruit and vegetables that have specific human health qualities. It will also analyze crop yield and growth rates with all resource inputs to compare their carbon footprint to other production systems. It will operate on renewable energy sources from the national grid, supported by battery technology to manage peaks in energy demand.
With only a handful of commercial vertical farms in Scotland, the facility will be important for demonstration and knowledge exchange with farmers, growers and small businesses, giving vital support and promoting innovation.
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Scotland's Rural College (SRUC)