“We decided to change in Norway for the first time. Since the cold affects the production potential in agriculture, we wanted to offer an opportunity to extend it to year-round cultivation. A key element of this is the use of renewable energy, ”says Thomas Apelthun, co-founder of Vertical Agri.
Vertical Agri is a Norwegian vertical agricultural supplier and farmer. Before he went vertically, Thomas was thinking green. He and a Norwegian friend founded a company that produces biodegradable packaging. The factory in Germany produces all kinds of materials in cooperation with Total’s subsidiary. He soon started into vertical management after dealing with the import of containers. Then he experienced the basics of modular houses.
After some energy companies said they were working with Vertical Agri, the company approached one of Norway’s largest salmon producers. As a result, an experimental farm will be set up in March / April to test the potential of aquaponic farming. “We use the waste streams from the salmon farm to feed our plants. When it comes to solar energy, it’s a little different, but we use the available free energy to nurture the energy of our farms. ”
Concept version of a larger farm
New farm to supply the five largest cities
A 15,000 m2 commercial farm will be on the agenda later this year, serving the five largest cities in Norway. The new plant will be in the center of the country.
The 15,000 m2 will be the largest complex we are building. This is a fairly mobile facility as new modules can be easily added to it. Not all capacity is used to grow crops, but some space is left for R&D. It can usually take a long time to get approval from the authorities, but they don’t want to go that route. “We want to be aggressive in building the farm and it needs to be built as soon as possible. “It’s a science. There are so many variables that can lead to good results or complete disaster. ”
She grows among polar bears
Recently, Vertical Agri launched a project in Svalbard (Spitsbergen), the outermost end of Norway, which is very close to the North Pole. There is a community of 8,000 people on the remote island. There are some hotels and R&D activities related to polar activities, as well as regular visits to polar bears walking the streets. As it is a very small community, there is a large grocery store that allows for some kind of infrastructure. The products are imported from the Netherlands or Portugal.
“When we started this project, it was very simple. We wanted to reduce CO2 emissions through local and sustainable production. Most importantly, it allows residents to become more self-sufficient. Not all products can be grown immediately, but it is very easy to grow there in a vertical farming environment, ”notes Thomas.
Electricity is extracted from solar energy, while heat is extracted from geothermal energy. The first harvest will take place in March, which includes leafy greens, lettuce, micro greens and strawberries. Thomas and his team are looking forward to sharing this project with the world to showcase the possibilities of a Vertical Agri solution worldwide.
The farm is easy to scale
Easy to scale up and down
So far, Vertical Agri has funded the project itself, while plenty of investors have approached them. At this point, however, they have a good financial structure, which can result in the company going public at some point.
Smaller modular facilities of 100-300m2 can be transported to more remote areas. It is an advantage that they can be easily scaled or reduced. These farms can cover a population of 20,000 and can supply at least three local businesses.
Feed as an ancillary activity
In addition to feeding remote villages, the company also has a project that examines fodder production as a subsidiary. The slightly larger container farm can grow 800 kg of grass per day, which can be used for cattle. This means that a dairy farmer can almost suffice with such a system as the price of cow feed rises terribly. There is an extra space on the farm that provides adequate work space for producers to handle things from the farm.
It allows farmers to have a small unit for vertical agricultural production to produce crops that allow for multiple sources of income. “We will soon be introducing some leasing plans that will make this option more affordable for growers.
We are thinking of setting up emergency farms because there are so many natural disasters happening today. In the event of a food shortage, we can get these ready-made farms within 48 hours to help remedy the situation.
Thomas Apelthun, co-founder