Vertical farming conference brings together top minds

Updated: Mar 25, 2021

Zenith Global
The first Vertical Farming World Congress will have the theme ‘Shaping Food’s Future’. PHOTO: ImageCollab

With hundreds of millions in currency being invested in vertical farms across North America, Europe, the Middle East, Japan and beyond, the first Vertical Farming World Congress is being held online from 22 to 24 September. It is bringing together the sector’s top minds and businesses including vertical farming operators, investors, suppliers and experts to debate and help advance the sector’s future.

Richard Hall, chairman of Zenith Global, food and drink consultants organizing the event, says the first Vertical Farming World Congress will have the theme ‘Shaping Food’s Future’ and will enable guests to hear from leading global players and network with key figures from across the industry. He says it is a unique opportunity for interested investors, agriculturalists, food producers, suppliers, academics and governments.

“There will be virtual farm tours, round tables on key issues and socials as well as one-to-one networking. Participants will be able to 'visit' some vertical farms from the comfort of their own home. The most authoritative speakers in the sector have been assembled and there will be access afterwards to review presentations and continue making new connections,” says the chairman.

Leading contributors range from the Global Association of Vertical Farming to Wageningen University with speakers from AeroFarms and 80 Acres Farms from the United States; Intelligent Growth Solutions and Jones Food Company from the United Kingdom; the World Wildlife Fund; and Migros, a retail company from Switzerland. Root AI of the United States; Uns Farms from the United Arab Emirates and YesHealth Group in Taiwan are opening their doors to virtual visitors through videos showcasing their operations.

Ellis Janssen, global director of City Farming at Signify, a Dutch lighting supplier, which is focussing on developing products for vertical and indoor farming in recent years, says they've been working on improving the efficiency of lighting modules as it's important to look at the efficacy of lighting modules. She says while lighting is crucial to photosynthesis, it's only part of the puzzle and a combination of factors make a vertical farm successful or not. Wythe Marschall, chair of the Education Committee at FarmTech Society, a non-profit industry association supporting the Controlled Environment Agriculture industry, says their organization focuses on education and workforce development and have formed the CEA training and education consortium. He says they look to work with educational institutions and members offering courses with industry credentials and skills vetted by the academic institutions and industry.

Stephan Wullschleger, of Porohita Projects, a company implementing projects in the fields of circular economy and sustainability in the food, feed and agriculture sectors, says their company is all about circularity in indoor agriculture. Wullschleger spent time in the UAE and Saudi Arabia working on controlled-environment agriculture projects, before moving into vertical farming.

Other talks taking place at the Vertical Farming World Congress include a discussion on a view of the city of the future, a nutrition briefing and a debate about the relative merit of aeroponics, aquaponics and hydroponics. A technology briefing will look in-depth at operational choices, plant growth, lighting and robotics, while innovator case studies including growing underground, modular aeroponics, shipping containers and success in Taiwan, will also be showcased.

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