A new facility for researching vertical horticulture opened recently in Selby, North Yorkshire, UK, as a way to help entrepreneurs, growers and investors gain deeper insight into horticultural lighting technology and environmental parameters needed to optimize crop yields. The Stockbridge Technology Centre’s Vertical Farming Development Facility will enable growers to test and model their individual urban farm setup prior to investment. The facility uses Current by GE’s Arize LED horticulture lighting to help researchers test growth of crops such as leafy greens and herbs in different conditions.
The center aims to propel the success of the vertical farming industry, projected to be worth $13.9 billion in 2024 (up from $2.5 billion in 2017) and generate more “farmable land” to address future global food production pressures.
Potential investors and vertical farmers can work with STC’s plant scientists and vertical farming experts to identify and test the perfect vertical farm setup to maximize their planned harvest’s size, nutritional value and visual appeal. In a controlled environment, they are able to monitor and tweak parameters such as the length of the growing day, C02 concentration, humidity, nutrients and temperature, to ensure that their proposed farm will be commercially sustainable prior to construction. The resulting data supports business planning activity and minimizes risks previously associated with vertical farming.
The installation contains two identical grow rooms – a total growing area of 228m2 – with full climate control and a recirculating hydroponics system as well as propagation and germination rooms. Four tiers of cropping racks are lit by 780m of Arize LED lighting, delivering a balanced spectrum of red and blue wavelengths that will help boost the development of a broad range of plants.