High tech meets agriculture in Denmark
The Danish company Nordic Harvest runs Europe’s biggest vertical farm in Denmark. Vertical farming is either the worst method of farming in terms of CO2 emissions, or it’s the best. That all depends on the type of energy used to power the farm – and on the technology used to run it. Denmark sees greenhouse production as a big part of its future. Not only can it feed its own population at less cost and in a more energy-efficient manner, but it can also export some of the technology and know-how. A project, called Greenhouse Industry 4.0, was established to bring in some of the latest technology already used in other industries and apply it to greenhouse production.
Anders Riemann, founder and director of Nordic Harvest, says in a company blog post that the only reason they haven’t moved beyond production of just lettuce, herbs and cabbage is that these are the only plants that are profitable to grow with vertical farming. It is not economically feasible to use vertical farming to grow tomatoes, for example, because it takes too much time and effort for the plant to grow leaves and stems, which cannot be sold. Only after a long period of photosynthesis can tomato plants start bearing the fruit that can be sold. It’s not only technological development that will determine what makes sense to produce in the future. A whole new ecosystem needs to develop around new methods of farming. For example, seeds will be bred so they are suitable for vertical farming.