Scottish indoor agritech specialist IGS has partnered with Australian company Eden Towers to build a commercial-scale vertical farm that will be powered by up to 100 per cent solar energy.
The commercial-scale facility, which aims to become entirely carbon neutral by 2024, will grow leafy greens as well as indigenous crops, such as warrigal and bush tucker celery, to support the local indigenous community and enter new markets.
It will be located in the Peel Business Park next to theShire of Murray’s Western Australian Food Innovation Precinct (WAFIP) in Nambeelup, south of Perth.
A four-tower farm will be the centrepiece of the new site, generating 120 tonnes of produce a year when fully operational in 2023. Crops will include lettuce, spinach, kale and basil, as well as the indigenous crops.
The farm will use 98 per cent less water and achieve up to 15 times the yield of a greenhouse or open field, according to IGS. A traditional field would require 6,000m2of space to produce the equivalent yield.
IGS has been appointed to build four 12-meter-high Growth Tower structures, patented technology that will create a precision-controlled indoor ecosystem where plants can thrive all year round without soil.
The farm in Perth will also be supported by local agriculture provider Bon Pty Ltd, which will deliver the seed-to-harvest line automation and vertical farm project management.
Construction will begin in Q1 2022, and the farm is expected to be fully operational by early Q4 2022.
David Farquhar, CEO at IGS, said: “Australia’s agricultural production is growing, but it’s vital that’s delivered in an environmentally sustainable way if we’re to curb the emissions our farming habits produce globally.
“Eden Towers is passionate about sustainable farming across Australia, and we’re excited that they have chosen our platform to help deliver this project and to support indigenous crop growth and the local community.”
The farm’s indigenous crop programme is supported by the WAFIP’s collaborators and championed by the Peel Development Commission.
Working alongside Winjan Aboriginal Corporation, Eden Towers and IGS will first use the vertical farm near Perth to grow food crops like the warrigal plant a type of bush tucker spinach, and bush tucker celery, with a view to broaden this over time to pharmaceutical and cosmetic crops.
It also plans to support reforestation projects in the area.
The project has also secured funding from the WAFIP’s Enterprise Support Programme and the Regional Economic Development (RED) Grant from the state government.
The site near Perth is the first for the partnership between Eden Towers and IGS, with the pair set to expand their work into other major cities in Australia and parts of the Asia Pacific including Singapore and Indonesia.
Christian Prokscha, co-founder of Eden Towers, said: “Our partnership with IGS gives us unfettered access to the best technology and world-leading crop and food scientists from IGS and at the James Hutton Institute in Scotland.
“With this partnership, we can further our goal of sustainably feeding the world and protecting the environment, while supporting our local indigenous community with opportunities to tell the stories of local indigenous flora and fauna while creating jobs, and local markets for a new global product.”