Growing More Crops in Vertical Farming Systems
Vertical farming has caught the attention of the investment community, but production is still limited to mostly leafy greens. John Purcell and his team at Unfold hope to help vertical farms expand into fruiting crops by offering them new genetics and digital solutions.
Purcell… “They've got to broaden the crops. I mean, there's a reason why, you know, glass house and greenhouse growers grow peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers. They're highly differentiate-able. There's products that allow the consumer to think about the sensory experience. You know, there's a way for you to really, really address a market that's looking for a better consumer experience. And I think you can do it in leafys but boy, when you get into the fruiting crops, you have a lot more opportunities.”
Purcell says vertical farms can offer some of the same advantages that greenhouse producers already offer, but with the advantage of higher crop densities.
Purcell… “The same reason why tomatoes, you know, most of the premium product is grown in glass house, right. I mean, and those growers, that's the closest thing to vertical farming, really. High tech, very clued in on how they grow that crop. They can't control the complete environment because it's the glass house, but they do a pretty darn good job. And they have a very consistent quality, but they still suffer through parts of the season because you have variations in sun, you have variations in temperature that they try to control and hopefully vertical can address any gaps that might be in the high-tech glass house market that's already providing some great produce out there.”
Unfold began as a joint venture between Bayer Crop Sciences and Temasek to focus on vertical farming.