"The vertical farming industry has started in Chile with AgroUrbana as the first company in LATAM and the University of Talca researching soilless cultivation for three decades and from 2021 in vertical farming. With this project, we aim to develop advanced local systems for lower cost, interoperable and scalable," says Gilda Carrasco Silva, Professor at the University of Talca.
The University is located in the south-central macro-zone of Chile and is a known developer of soilless crops. On top of that, the University of Talca was awarded a technological innovation project-FIC, Maule taking place in 2021.
Participants that attended a seminar held by the University of Talca
As a result of a vertical farming series held at the University, Professor Gilda has seen great interest among farmers and researchers in vertical agriculture thanks to these international events.
Gilda and the vertical farming team are developing a project that focuses on vegetable production in a controlled environment, using recycled shipping containers aiming to keep costs low.
A refurbished shipping container
Using local tech
To ensure low OpEx, the team is developing local integrated technology such as platforms with low-cost sensors for controlled environment and nutrient solutions which is led by Fernando Fuentes-Peñailillo.
A second seminar that was organized by the University of Talca highlighted advances in agri-food systems, the industrial development of vertical agriculture in Chile, and the rational use of light.
The seminar was attended by Cristian Muñoz Careaga, President of vegetable exporters, Cristian Sjögren, CEO of AgroUrbana, and researchers Laurens Klerkx (U. Talca / U. Wageningen), Juan E. Álvaro (P. Catholic University of Valparaiso) and Miguel Urrestarazu, Professor at the University of Almeria, Spain.
The R&D container
The project-FIC, led by Pabla Rebolledo, is progressing as the researchers are evaluating lettuce and strawberry cultivation in both a greenhouse and a container farm. The team is hoping to announce the implementation of a commercial low-cost container farm pilot in 2024 that allows to cultivate leafy greens and strawberries.