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Liberty Produce and Partners are transforming the vertical farming landscape

2nd December 2019

London, UK


Press Release: Liberty Produce and Partners are transforming the vertical farming landscape

Liberty Produce and Partners have launched their ambitious programme to coordinate the development of the technology needed to make Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) more effective, efficient and sustainable.

The joint venture, co-funded by Innovate UK (the UK’s innovation agency), is supporting the creation of an integrated technology system focussed on reducing operational costs by 25%, improving crop yield by 30% and reducing necessary grower intervention through improved decision support and automation in lighting, nutrient and environmental control technologies.

The project involves several partners and experts in CEA, including Crop Health and Protection (CHAP). In work being carried out at CHAP’s Fine Phenotyping Lab, based at Rothamsted Research, experts are assessing ways in which plants react to light throughout the day, determining how to activate and make them most receptive to light, particularly through the manipulation of wavelength and light intensity. They have already found evidence that plants photosynthetic response to light levels off and reaches saturation. Within CEA systems, avoiding the unnecessary application of light is crucial in reducing operational cost and making systems more sustainable.

Crops growing indoors under LED lights
Crops growing under Liberty LED lights in the IHCEA facility. Credit: Liberty Produce 2019.

The data collected on how different crops respond to artificial LED lighting systems will inform the development of further technologies around sensing and automation - work packages being led by FOTENIX and Iceni Labs.

As the new technologies are developed, they will be evaluated at the IHCEA Future Farming Hub facility, a vertical farming commercial demonstrator established by Liberty Produce in partnership with Crop Health and Protection (CHAP) and located at the James Hutton Institute, in Dundee, Scotland.

Zeina Chapman, Director of Liberty Produce commented, “Vertical farming is not yet sustainable - the capital and operational costs limit the adoption of these systems. This vital research and development will enable the build of innovative new technologies that will ensure CEA becomes an essential and sustainable element of crop production as the global population grows.”

Dr Ruth Bastow, Innovation Director of CHAP said, “CEA has great potential to be part of a global solution to produce food in more efficient, resilient and sustainable ways. However, there are still bottlenecks to be overcome for large-scale adoption, and this project will help accelerate the development of new technologies and approaches to improve the overall efficiency of CEA utilising capabilities across the CHAP network.”


Notes for Editors

About Liberty Produce

Liberty Produce is a farming technology company, enabling the growth of local produce year-round, using a fully-controlled, industry-leading, indoor vertical farming system. With expertise in lighting and nutrient delivery technology, Liberty develops and builds systems that reduce operational costs and improve yields of crops grown in controlled-environment farms. Their vision is to drive innovations that will enable the UK to meet our crop requirements over the next century, without harming the planet.

For further information contact:

Benita Rajania

+44 20 3290 8801

About CHAP

Crop Health and Protection (CHAP), funded by Innovate UK, is one of four UK Agri-Tech Centres. CHAP’s vision is for the UK to be a global leader in the development of applied agri-technologies, to help secure our future by nourishing a growing population sustainably while delivering economic, environmental and health benefits to society.

CHAP acts as a unique, independent nexus between UK government, researchers and industry, building innovation networks to identify and accelerate the development of cutting-edge solutions to drive incremental, transformative and disruptive changes in sustainable crop productivity and to establish controlled environment agriculture (CEA) as a core competency.

For further information contact: Darren Hassall +44 (0)1904 462062

About Innovate UK

Innovate UK drives productivity and economic growth by supporting businesses to develop and realise the potential of new ideas. We connect businesses to the partners, customers and investors that can help them turn ideas into commercially successful products and services and business growth. We fund business and research collaborations to accelerate innovation and drive business investment into R&D. Our support is available to businesses across all economic sectors, value chains and UK regions. Innovate UK is part of UK Research and Innovation.

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