In the new edition of Scottish Field, Louise Gray visits the world’s most technically advanced vertical farm, which is in Dundee.
In the final column in her series on fruit and vegetables, she asks if this is the future of food.
It is blowing a hoolie outside and usually I would be knee-deep in mud on a farm visit, but this is not just any farm, this is the farm of the future. I am warm and dry, in a relatively sterile atmosphere and all I can hear is the gentle whir of computers. There are plants all around me but not a lump of soil.
Trays of micro-herbs are stacked three stories high and bathed in a spectrum of red, blue, purple and pink LED lights.
It feels like I have stepped into a sci-fi movie, not a warehouse just outside a suburb of Dundee.
The James Hutton Institute, a world-leading crop research facility, has teamed up with agri-tech entrepreneurs Intelligent Growth Solutions (IGS), to create this £5m ‘vertical farm’.
The idea is to combine the best scientific thinking with engineering skills to develop indoor farming that could produce food in places lacking enough land or a sufficiently temperate climate (for example, inner cities, deserts or even the Outer Hebrides).
At the moment the IGS farm is purely a research facility, proving what can be done with indoor farming, but there have already been orders from Asia, Africa and the Middle East for the new technology.
Standing in one of the best tattie-producing areas in the country, I wonder if it is really necessary to squeeze plants into a warehouse when we have plenty of mud in Scotland and an increasingly temperate climate (even if it didn’t feel it during my trip to the Hutton Institute).
- Read the full feature in the March 2019 edition of Scottish Field.