“Today, there is one thing that we have not found off the shelves in the market yet is a farm management system. Meaning, a specific vertical farming software that helps growers and other employees to create specific tasks so the whole farm production becomes optimal. Thus, for instance, a system that understands to save time, create better work comfort, use energy and labor efficiently, and meet the quality specifics of products,” said Nicolas Seguy, Managing director and co-founder of Jungle, during a webinar organized by Mycelium.
Nicolas Seguy and Gilles Dreyfus , founders of Jungle
Many other things came up during the panel, such as production on demand, blending expertise from various industries and introducing dynamic technology that keeps costs low. Joining the webinar were Eric Dargent, Director and managing partner of Mycelium as the panel leader, Gert-Jan van Staalduinen, Owner of Logiqs B.V. and Thomas Ambrosi, Chairman CEO and founder of ONO Exponential Farming.
What does the industry need to grow more crops and be more successful?
Following up on the question above, Thomas added that it’s key to reduce high production costs in vertical farming. “We need to scale up in a different kind of consciousness in controlled environments. Today’s technology is absolutely in the hands of the industry.” ONO’s aim is to optimally understand the LEAN farming system, producing when it’s necessary and where it’s necessary, to democratize the entire process. Doing so by introducing dynamic lighting and a dynamic growing climate, giving the plants what they need, when they need it.
ONO's vertical farming tower
According to Gert-Jan, it’s not only about systems but also about expertise from various industries that should be combined. “The current market leaders aren’t the ones that will get new opportunities due to their size. They will just try to sell off what they’ve always provided, which we’ve also struggled with ourselves. Since we also supply greenhouse growers, we separated our vertical farming operations into another entity to avoid overlap and confusion. We now solemnly focus on vertical farming in that entity. And it showed, Logiqs plans to build 500 farms in 2025, aiming to build 1 farm in three months.
Nicolas added that Jungle would love to find a way for vertical farming to work at a small scale, spreading and ramping it up to make it accessible to anyone anywhere, creating a hyper-local food system.
A typical vertical farm layout from Logiqs
What are the specific challenges when transferring solutions to vertical farming?
Gert-Jan pointed out that vertical farms should offer different, high-quality products as opposed to greenhouses. “We have to look at the advantage of vertical farming and the product. Instead of focusing on costs, the market should focus on delivering highly nutritious and high vitamin content products. Of which the opportunities should be communicated to the market. Farmers should offer something different than what already is being produced at this point. Technology is needed in order to ensure that high-quality, which can only be applied in a controlled environment.
When introducing LEAN farming into the sector, costs can be kept low, as Thomas puts it. He emphasized that people should understand the mentality of production, no waste. Overproduction results in stopping production, down-time, etc. Whereas production on demand can remedy such issues.
When it comes to Nicolas, he clearly sees two big challenges the industry yet has to overcome. One is people. “Creating a common language that can be used for any kind of educational background, aligning company to achieve efficiency is very hard at this point. Secondly, marketing vertical farming to society. It’s such a challenge to find the right ways to convince, explain and help to understand how vertical farming fits into the economics and supply chains of industries that would make a good fit.”
For more information:
Nicolas Seguy, Managing director and co-founder
For more information:
Thomas Ambrosi, Chairman CEO and founder
ONO Exponential Farming
Gert-Jan van Staalduinen, Owner