“We have been working on this deal for two or three years to develop the right solution for farmers. It looks like we should be able to deliver it next June,” said John Leslie, director and engineer at Vertical Farm Systems in late November. An agricultural technology company based in Queensland, Australia.
Vertical Farm Systems was founded in 2009 and develops turnkey solutions for indoor multi-layer farming. The company’s planting systems are the BioPonic System, a biological alternative to traditional hydroponics, which does not require synthetic fertilizers. In biodynamic agriculture, biological food sources are combined with good bacteria and fungi, which also commonly occur in soil-related systems.
Vertical Farming Systems’ XA Series Warehouse System is the company’s flagship product. It is fully automated, modular and offers 28 different configurations, allowing farmers to scale at a later stage according to their production goals. XA series consists of seed, planting, transportation, harvesting unit and planting media recovery unit. The system has already proven to be very suitable for growing leafy vegetables. This year, the company is expanding with the XF system for fully automatic cropping. Currently, developments focus on the cultivation of greens, vegetable proteins and hemp.
XA Warehouse System Overview
“We are focusing on developing a precision vegetable culture system, as the demand for it is high. In addition, we are working on plant protein farming solutions and there is a great deal of interest in automated feed systems,” John continues. Four phases will be completed, with a value of 5.7 million euros each.
Strong demand for vertical farm systems
According to John, there is a lot of interest from the United States. The company is therefore looking for a suitable collaboration partner to set up a production facility in North America to better meet the strong demand for vertical farm systems in this region.
Remarkably, about 96% of orders received by Vertical Farm Systems do not come from gardeners. John attributes this to the fact that gardeners are often land-bound and have already invested heavily in greenhouses and other infrastructure.
While XF’s automatic forage farming system is beneficial to livestock farmers, vertical farming is mainly aimed at growing in an urban environment and making local farming more profitable.
“Farmers are usually found in rural areas and have well-developed infrastructure. Few of the traditional farmers have warehouses suitable for vertical farming. The great advantage of our mechanized farming systems is that they allow the profitable cultivation of zero-waste food crops in cities, where today 70% of the world’s population lives John explains.
John explains that Vertical Farm Systems automates their systems to the point where they require very little labor and can only be managed by one or two people. These people don’t actually need any gardening knowledge. This technology is easy to use and designed to alert operators of necessary modifications and maintenance.
Climatic cell cultivation allows farmers to use different cells independently of each other, use resources as efficiently as possible and maintain a high level of biosecurity. By using a biodynamic growing system, farmers can reduce their environmental impact and grow crops without chemicals in as natural a growing environment as possible.
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John Leslie, CEO
vertical farm systems
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