“Our company name, agrilution, combines ‘agriculture’ and ‘revolution’. We’d like to raise awareness for healthy food.”
Maximilian Loessl, CEO and co-founder of agrilution.
The Munich Revolutionaries
While the plants grown in this system are comparatively low calorie — including microgreens like coriander, parsley, chives, varieties of lettuce and herbs — they make up for this in nutrients: “Microgreens have up to 30 times higher nutrient levels than mature plants,” Loessl notes.
The company’s home growing devices — plantCubes — use broad spectrum wavelength LED lights. “This leads seedling plants to develop more biomass, attain faster growth, and develop richer nutrient levels,” states Loessl. Using a hydroponic method — growing plants in sponges, sand or liquid rather than soil — the system is a closed-water culture.
The Orchards on Orchard Road
The World’s Largest Vertical Farm
Until September 2016, the world’s largest vertical farm is one located in Japan. Within a 2,300 square meter building, approximately 10,000 heads of lettuce are harvested per day. According to one assessment, this is one hundred times the volume that could be produced on a similar size piece of horizontally-farmed land. In September 2016, Newark, New Jersey’s AeroFarms will take the title of the world’s largest indoor vertical farm: it will be 6,410 square meters.
Sources: weburbanist.com, MIRAI, CO. LTD, CNN
“Singapore has achieved self-sufficiency in water but not in food. My passion is to change this.”
Jack Ng, Singaporean engineer and businessman, inventor and founder of Sky Greens
From the Singapore Skies and Beyond
The Sky Greens system is soil-based, though it can also be adapted for hydroponics. It resembles a slow nine-meter tall Ferris wheel, completing one revolution in 16 hours. Vegetable trays rotate down to obtain sufficient water and then up to the top of the tower for maximum sunlight. Overall, each tower needs only 40 Watt of electricity, the equivalent of one light bulb.
So far, Sky Greens has been able to grow “anything that could be planted in pots,” explains Ng. A majority of their plants are commercial Asian leafy vegetables and kale — at ten times the volume of a traditional open field farm in the same space.
As an engineer and businessman, Ng provides an analytical assessment: “Vertical farming solutions can address challenges of urbanization such as encroachment of farmlands.” The company continues to grow: overseas projects have been completed in Thailand and China. Sky Greens is also exploring opportunities in Malaysia and around the world.
Ultimately, Ng compares Sky Greens to a building or engineering project: “Hydroponics, which is common in vertical farming, has new automation processes, like controlled mixing of nutrients, but we always have to consider the cost viability for specific crop cultivation in different markets.” Ng pauses reflectively. “Vertical farming needs to make business sense and preserve the environment. We actively work with other greenhouse technologies and continually innovate to create solutions for sustainable food production.”