A team led by UK-based vertical farming company Liberty Produce has won £420,000 (~$588,000 USD) from the Innovate UK fund to help advance controlled-environment farming in Singapore, according to a press release sent to The Spoon.
Liberty Produce and Singapore-based LivFresh will jointly lead the Hybrid Advanced Research Vertical Farming Environment Systems and Technology (HARVEST) consortium, which will also include research partners Republic Polytechnic Singapore and the James Hutton Institute.
Liberty Produce will install its Liberator farming system, developed in the UK, at the LivFresh hydroponic farm in Singapore, where it will be integrated with existing greenhouse technology. The HARVEST team will then run trials of this combined system, with the goal being to eventually release a turn-key product for Singapore food growers to use domestically.
Because of limited land, Singapore currently imports about 90 percent of its food. This dependence on outside sources, however, has proven itself problematic at certain times — like during a pandemic, when the global food supply chain gets disrupted.
The Singaporean government’s 30×30 initiative aims to get 30 percent of the city-state’s food produced domestically by 2030. Controlled-environment farming, such as greenhouses and vertical farms, is a major part of that plan.
Liberty Produce develops vertical farms that are modular and can therefore be customized to a specific farming operation’s needs. They are also smaller than the massive “plant factories” a la Plenty or AeroFarms. For instance, the Liberator 5000 is roughly the size of a shipping container, according to the company, while two other models are even smaller. This smaller geographic footprint is well-suited to a place like Singapore, which is mostly urban and, as mentioned above, is already dealing with very limited land.
Liberty Produce systems are 100 percent controlled, from the amount of water and nutrients fed to crops to humidity levels to the “recipes” of LED lights. The system can grow standard leafy greens but has also grown more challenging crops, like blueberries.
The project with LivFresh will last two years and support Singapore’s national strategy around the 30×30 goal.