Philippe Mozzanega (Liberty Produce), Dylan Banks (Liberty Produce), Susan McCallum (James Hutton Institute)
Everything you wanted to know about nutrients (but were too afraid to ask)
Synthetic fertilisers are vital to our food security without them we would only be able to feed 47% of the world’s current population. As the global population is predicted to increase to 9 billion people by 2050 we will only become more reliant on synthetic fertilisers. However, the raw materials to produce these fertilisers are energy-intensive to produce, with 1-2% of global power production being used to produce ammonia, and in limited supply, with peak phosphorus predicted to occur in 2030. Sustainable nutrient management is of critical importance to achieve high crop yield and quality and to improve nutrient use efficiency in agricultural production systems.
Ensuring that crops are supplied with the ideal mix of macro and micronutrients can be extremely difficult as the nutrient demand of a crop is always in flux. Crops require different nutrients in different amounts at different stages in their life cycle, depending on constantly changing environmental conditions. Controlled environment agriculture helps us overcome some of these barriers to sustainable nutrient management as environmental variation within a crop is removed, and the use of hydroponic growing techniques allow us to strictly control the initial nutrient conditions within a crop.
This seminar will explore various methods of tracking and improving nutrient use efficiency within a hydroponic farm, covering, source water analysis, fertiliser selection and formulation, nutrient measurement within a crop and circulating fertiliser, and reusing spent fertiliser via nutrient dosing.
Laurence Anderson (University of Liverpool / Farm Urban)
Vertical farming in the UK: Consumers and producers’ perception of its sustainability
The world demographic is rising with predictions projecting it to reach 9 billion people by 2050. Hence, this results in an increase in urbanization as their population is predicted to reach 7 billion by 2050. Therefore, to ensure food security within cities, alternatives are being evaluated. Potential has been found in urban agriculture and its sub-divisions but more precisely in vertical farming.
Therefore, this research will focus on evaluating the sustainability of vertical farming within the UK through the perspective of consumers and producers. To ensure both sides’ perspectives were taken into account, the research adopted a mixed methodology method which used a survey for consumers and interviews for producers.
The results of this research indicated the importance of the price for the consumer, which shows that, as mentioned by the producers, the price tag can be a limiting factor to the potential purchase. This limit cannot be neglected by the producer as the importance of the economic pillar in their sustainability is vital, as is the social perception of vertical farming and CEA. Hence the economic pillar is the primary factor for both consumer and producer on which they believe vertical farming’s sustainability lies. However, the importance of this pillar is influenced by the comprehension of the food industry by the consumers.
Vertical farming (VF) has been recognised as an important tool for managing future food security, yet economic viability poses a significant hurdle with the majority of farms closing within several years without further investment. VF involves the management of highly complex systems and, despite the opportunity it presents, start-ups have struggled with underestimated labour cost and inefficient workflow and inadequate ergonomic design considerations. Standard approaches to process management have yet to be widely adopted in the industry and the application of lean principles poses an opportunity to address labour inefficiencies. In this presentation, five lean principles are discussed in the context of an industry case study providing techniques and some usage-cases. This exploratory research exposes voids in the knowledge-base and is important for driving higher profit margins in this emerging sector.
Francis Baumont de Oliveira (University of Liverpool / Farm Urban)
What technologies would help to grow trust for Vertical Farmers?
Vertical Farming is a rapidly growing industry, but yet not widely known by the customer, consumers, investors and decision & policy makers. The building of relationships and networks is of critical importance to the future of the industry, but these must be based above all else upon trust. Accurate, credible information and communication is needed to generate and nurture that
trust through verifiable data and the use of standards.
How can vertical farms best address this challenge? What technologies, methods & approaches will most aid the building of these crucial relationships?
Future Farm Technology Expo and UKUAT have brought together some of the leading experts in Vertical Farming to discuss these issues and help UK Vertical Farmers decide what their next steps should be.