New Atlas reports on ag-tech company Vertical Field’s efforts to produce soil-based indoor vertical farms grown at the very location where food is consumed. From the report: The Vertical Field setup retains many of the advantages of hydroponic vertical farms, but instead of the plants growing in a nutrient-packed liquid medium, the container-based pods treat their crops to real soil, supplemented by a proprietary mix of minerals and nutrients. The company says that it opted for geoponic production “because we found that it has far richer flavor, color, and quality.”
The recycled and repurposed 20- or 40-ft (6/12-ft) shipping containers used to host the farms can be installed within reach of consumers, such as in the parking lot of a restaurant or out back at the grocery store. Growers can also scale up operations to more than one pod per site if needed, and the external surfaces could be covered in a living wall of decorative plants to make them more appealing. The vertical urban farms are claimed capable of supporting the production of a wide range of fruits and veggies — from leafy greens and herbs to strawberries and mushrooms, and more. And it’s reported to use up to 90 percent less water than a traditional farming setup.
Unlike some high-tech farming solutions, staff won’t need special training to work with the vertical farm as the automated growing process monitors, irrigates, and fertilizes the crops as they grow thanks to arrays of sensors that continually feed data on climate, soil condition, LED lighting and so on to management software. Each vertical farm unit has its own Wi-Fi comms technology installed to enable operators to tap into the system via a mobile app. The company told us that, by way of example, one container pilot farm offered a growing space of 400 sq ft (37 sq m) and yielded around 200 lb (90 kg) of produce per month, harvested daily. Lighting remained on for 16 hours per day. We assume that the pods are completely powered from the grid at their respective locations, though the company says that it is looking at ways to make use of solar panels as well as making more efficient use of water.
Read more of this story at Slashdot.