Australian agtech company Vertical Farm Systems (VFS) has raised $1 million for its automated indoor farming technology. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, although company co-owner Ashley Thompson told StartupSmart the investment comes from someone with “significant experience in the agriculture industry.”
Based in Queensland, Australia, VFS says its system can take plants from seedling stage to fully grown in just 28 days. Thompson, along with co-owner John Leslie, run the farm out of a warehouse facility divided into three climate cells, or insulated environments where computers control the lighting, water, and humidity levels, to give plants optimal growing conditions. The system automatically plants the seeds in trays of clay pods, then loads those trays onto stackable racks equipped with LEDs, where the plants will grow. Currently, the facility houses about eight acres’ worth of crops.
You can watch a video of the system in action here.
VFS isn’t just growing greens, however. Running with the idea that vertical farming needs to be fully automated to offset labor costs, Thompson and Leslie spent nine years developing their patented XA Series warehouse system to sell to customers around the world. The system comes in 28 different configurations, which can be matched to a customer’s business needs and expanded if need be in the future.
They’re not alone in bringing indoor farming into the spotlight of the agtech space in Australia. A company called Modular Farms sells a variety of expandable container farms, though these require a little more hands-on work from humans than VFS’ system (think Freight Farms in the U.S.) Invertigro, meanwhile, sells a modular system the company says can grow everything from leafy greens to berries.
In addition to further developing the XA system, VFS is also using the new funds to develop other technologies, including an automated fodder machine, which can feed livestock for 14 days without human intervention, and a mealworm farm system.