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Next-gen vertical farming, sensors and energy generation showcased to US Midwest State Legislators

Senators and Representatives from US Midwest state legislatures saw ‘next-generation’ vertical farm technology at GrowPura Limited and on-farm energy production in Fenland as part of a visit hosted by Agri-TechE along with the Department for International Trade (DIT) on March 14, 2023.

Midwestern Office initiate visit
The mission was initiated by the British Consulate-General, Chicago, in partnership with the Council of State Governments Midwestern Office (CSG Midwest). Chicago Consul General Alan Gogbashian explained: “We want this visit to focus on showcasing the UK’s leadership in agriculture, agri-tech, and the energy transition from fossil fuels, as these themes have special resonance for the Midwest.”

The delegation, which included State Senators and State Representatives from Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, and Ohio, joined members of the Agri-TechE ecosystem for discussions and dinner at the historic Madingley Hall, just outside Cambridge.

Cutting-edge technologies
This was followed the next day by field visits, accompanied by DIT, to GrowPura Limited, developers of advanced vertical farm technology, and FC Palmer & Sons, a Fenland farm that has made a significant investment in sustainable energy production.

Dr. Belinda Clarke, Director of Agri-TechE, comments: “We are honored to welcome this high-level delegation to showcase some of the great innovations in our ecosystem, from energy generation on-farm to alternative approaches to food production and the use of sensors for precision agriculture. These are common themes that unite agriculture across the globe, and they require appropriate regulation to deliver the intended impact. We are looking forward to seeing how the legislators in the US are approaching these cutting-edge technologies and enabling them to be used across these states.”

Optimizing space and reducing inputs
GrowPura Limited has developed the world’s first automated, moving conveyor system for vertical farming that operates in a patented ‘Clean Room’ environment.

The GrowPura® technology aims to maximize the use of space and reduce input costs. Plants receive the optimum light for growth, and as 95% of the water used is recycled, it uses a fraction of the water required for field-irrigated crops with no runoff. GrowPura aims to reduce the environmental impact of vertical farming while improving the quality of food produced and its economic benefits.

Jeremy McNamara, Chief Commercial Officer for GrowPura, comments that vertical farming is complementary to the field and undercover cropping but has particular benefits for the year-round growing of leafy greens, herbs, and some berries. “Vertical farming has an important role in food security and could, with enough investment, provide a sustainable source of locally grown produce directly to the market. This would help alleviate many of the issues we’ve seen recently in the supply chain.”

The other technology companies attending the dinner included: Delta-T Devices, specialists in precise real-time environmental measurement; Sencrop, developer of networked weather stations; Smartbell, developers of an ‘internet of cows’ for monitoring livestock; and NIAB, the center for plant research, crop evaluation, and agronomy.


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