Nottingham Trent University and Henley Associates Ltd.:

UK: Vertical farming system developed to meet growing demand

A vertical farming system is being developed by scientists at Nottingham Trent University in partnership with Henley Associates Ltd. Two vertical farming units will be created, one about the size of a shipping container and the other about half that size.

Experts say that they will act as an initial proof of concept, paving the way for more to be built for and used by retailers, caterers, local authorities, and schools.

The project aims to help feed a rising urban population, tackle the challenge of decreasing arable land, and reduce the UK’s reliance on imported produce. Researchers suggest the novel fully autonomous system will be capable of producing fresh food which is more nutritious, has far bigger yields, and is ready to harvest in at least half the time. Solar panels will provide electricity to run the whole system.

The vertical farm will be created over the next two years – one will be based at the university’s Brackenhurst Campus and the other in Grantham, Lincolnshire.

Chungui Lu, professor of sustainable agriculture in Nottingham Trent University’s School of Animal, Rural and Environmental Sciences, said: “We are designing and engineering prototypes before carrying out a detailed feasibility study.” He added: “We urgently need to develop new methods to enable intensive and sustainable crop production.

“Using novel semi-mist culture methods, this will be an advanced, energy-efficient, and carbon-neutral vertical farm for onsite use at retailers, schools, and other organizations. By the end of the project, we will have a new generation of containerized vertical farming that will improve UK resilience to environmental shocks and food security and will be beneficial for both the farming industry and society.”

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