Pushing Vertical Farming Further with Robotics & AI

Posted on: 21/05/2021
plants under purple light indoors

Vertical farming is an innovative approach that is helping to tackle some of the biggest horticulture challenges today. Freddie Reed, Product Manager at Intelligent Growth Solutions (IGS), gives us a taste of his upcoming talk as headline speaker on the final day at KTN’s Robotics & AI Industry Showcase, 25 – 27 May, by explaining how automation is taking vertical farming a step further.

“With vertical farming, produce is grown indoors under lighting and using hydroponic fertigation. Temperature, humidity, and light are carefully regulated within the sealed environment, and more plants can be packed into a space, on racks that can be multiple storeys high.

“This method of growing is highly controlled and highly efficient, making it perfect for supplementing traditional farming where space is at a premium, but it’s also a potential string to the bow in the fight against big global issues, like food shortages in countries where the environment is too harsh to allow for normal growth.

“However, when you’re dealing with living things, “perfect” is hard to achieve; although the humidity and temperature are controlled, doors still open and close, workers move in and out of the space to transfer plants, breathing in and out and taking in air with them all the while, creating opportunities for pests and diseases to creep in.  But, with robotic automation, we can take humans out of the growing environment and get one step closer to “perfect”.

“At IGS, we have developed our vertical farming system around an automation platform, drastically reducing human intervention, energy use, waste, and improving biosecurity in what is already a really controlled growing method.

“With the fertigation, remote monitoring and transfer of crops all handled robotically, the need for manpower is reduced, saving costs and protecting the growing environment just that much more.

“Over the years, we have developed a really robust system, in part due to our participation in the KTP programme, and there have been major learnings along the way.  The Robotics & AI Industry Showcase gives us an opportunity to explore potential AI applications to our system and meet and collaborate with new tech suppliers which is always really exciting, but it’s also a chance for us to give back, share our issues and solutions and boost robotics and AI innovation across all sectors.”


Marie Emerson, Knowledge Transfer Manager Robotics at KTN commented, “We are really excited about Freddie’s talk at RAI21.  He will focus on how he is using AI applications to feed a growing population – an issue close to the heart of KTN as we focus our business strategy on supporting innovation for positive change.  There are lots of exciting applications in AI and it is great to be able to bring these to life in this fantastic event”.

The Robotics & AI Industry Showcase virtual event will be held on 25 – 27 May 2021.  To register to attend, visit, www.raishowcase.com.

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