Time Magazine names Valcent’s Vertical Farming Technology one of Top 50 Best Innovations of 2009
November 13, 2009
“Real estate – the one thing we’re not making any more of,” reports Time Magazine. “That might be good news for landlords but not for the world’s farmers, who have finite cropland to feed a growing global population. The answer: build up by farming vertically. Valcent is pioneering a hydroponic-farming system that grows plants in rotating rows, one on top of another. The rotation gives the plants the precise amount of light and nutrients they need, while the vertical stacking enables the use of far less water than conventional farming. But best of all, by growing upward instead of outward, vertical farming can expand food supplies without using more land.”
Valcent pioneered a vertical farming technology, developed in their El Paso, Texas research facility, which was further honed and refined in Europe. “We are honored that our vertical farming technology is recognized as a top invention by Time Magazine,” says Chris Bradford, President, CEO, and Director of Valcent Products Inc. “Vertical farming is no longer a pie-in-the-sky concept dreamed up by academics in Ivory towers. We have entered a new era of urban agriculture where we can deliver locally grown crops that provide a nutritionally superior product that is healthier for the people and animals they serve.”
“VertiCrop, a commercial high-density vertical growing system, is being employed in controlled environments such as a glasshouse, polytunnel or warehouses, which increases production volume for field crops up to 20 times over but requires as little as 5% of the normal water supply,” adds Bradford. “It is a non-GM solution to food problems, using trays on a looped dynamic conveyor belt and automatic feeding stations to grow plants efficiently. It can be adapted to the needs of vegetable, herb, fruit and flower producers.”
Animal park makes plant history – VertiCrop System used
Paignton Zoo Environmental Park is making high-tech horticultural history by installing the first of a new generation of innovative plant growing systems.
The VertiCrop sustainable hydroponics installation will be the first of its kind in Europe and the first in a zoo or botanic garden anywhere in the world.
The Zoo is teaming up with the developers of VertiCrop, Valcent Products (eu) ltd., based in Launceston, a company at the forefront of global efforts to find new ways of growing plants in a world of rapidly-diminishing resources.
Paignton Zoo Curator of Plants and Gardens Kevin Frediani said: “We are making history here. Installing VertiCrop at Paignton Zoo means we can grow more plants in less room using less water and less energy. It will help to reduce food miles and bring down our annual bill for animal feed, which is currently in excess of £200,000 a year.”
To begin with, the Zoo will grow a whole range of herbs such as parsley and oregano, as well as leaf vegetables like lettuce and spinach, plus a range of fruits such as cherry tomato and strawberry. Reptiles, birds and most of the mammal collection – including primates and big cats – will benefit from the production of yearround fresh food. Paignton Zoo animals crunch their way through about 800 carrots a day and approximately £8,000-worth of fruit per month. Herbs are used as enrichment for many species.
Chris Bradford, Managing Director of Valcent, explained: “The world population is growing, food supply is shrinking, water supplies are becoming more limited, food production is competing for land with housing and the production of fuel crops. We have to make better use of available land.
“VertiCrop is the latest in plant growing technology, meeting the needs of the human population while reducing the pressure to clear precious habitat to grow crops. This technology could usher in a new era of urban horticulture.”
A zoo seems an unlikely location for this ground-breaking project, but Kevin explained: “Valcent wanted to promote their technology to the public as well as to growers, and we have over half a million visitors a year. As a botanic garden, Paignton Zoo is keen to educate people about all aspects of horticulture, particularly new, environmentally-friendly inventions like this.”
VertiCrop is a commercial high-density vertical growing system which increases production volume for field crops up to 20 times over but requires as little as 5% of the normal water supply. It is a non-GM solution to food problems, using trays on a looped dynamic conveyor belt and automatic feeding stations to grow plants efficiently. Installation of the system near the Zoo’s education building is expected to be completed by late June.