The Association for Vertical Farming is pleased to welcome its new member, Organifarms.
Organifarms is tackling the challenge of achieving sustainable agricultural practices in the face of climate change and a growing population by creating automation technology for vertical farming systems. Their highly innovative robot stations can be easily integrated into existing vertical farms. They aim to make it possible to grow a wider range of crops profitably, making access to fresh and healthy local produce feasible for more people.
Dominik Feiden, CEO of Organifarms, told the AVF:
“…we all had fresh fruits and vegetables in our early childhood and when we moved to the city we discovered it’s really difficult to get them…we thought about how we could change that and make fresh fruits and vegetables available for everybody […] we discovered that vertical farming could do even more for the challenges ahead with the growing population and climate crisis.”
The running and labor costs of vertical farms tend to be high, so cutting them down is critical to increasing the financial viability and securing the future of vertical farming businesses. Automation and optimization of the growing process are key components of this.
“Currently we have a prototype that can harvest strawberries and we aim to automate the whole process from seeding to pollinating to plant care and so on. The whole life cycle of the plant is automated with our system.”
The prototype will be presented publicly in January and the plan is to bring it to market in late 2021.
It will be possible to add new grippers for different fruits and vegetables thanks to the modular design, providing scope for expanding the range of products of a vertical farm business. Additionally, Organifarms are developing optimized process technology to facilitate faster harvesting speeds:
“Our system is different from others because we focus on image recognition […] our focus here is to optimize the visualization of the fruit so our robot can operate as fast as a human, at least in the beginning, and faster in the future.”
It also ensures easy integration into existing systems, requiring no prior knowledge for handling. Implementation of such innovative systems helps to maximize the potential of vertical farming technology, bringing to life the goals of more local and fresh food and less food waste while using minimal resources.
“Sustainable living should not go hand in hand with restrictions on what you eat […] you don’t need trade-offs. That is our aim and our message as well.”
Looking to the future, Organifarms support improvement through collaboration:
“We are especially interested in collaborations companies that design crop-to-operator/crop-to-person automation systems so we can learn from them and they can learn from us […] Secondly probably companies who have a good understanding of fruits and vegetables and how they are grown in indoor farms. Thirdly, vertical farmers who want to buy or use our systems. We need to understand them better […] so it would be great to talk to them and get to know them and see what they need.”
Author: Laura Nelson