Current, powered by GE celebrated the opening of Crop Health and Protection’s (CHAP’s) new Vertical Farming Development Facility in Selby, UK. Innovate UK supports the CHAP facility, which is based at Stockbridge Technology Centre (STC). The facility leverages Current by GE’s Arize horticultural lighting solution in hopes of driving commercial urban farming success in the UK.
The state-of-the-art research facility, located in Selby, North Yorkshire, is designed to help entrepreneurs, growers, and investors obtain a better understanding about the technology and environmental parameters necessary to optimize crop yields. The researchers intend to study and test the growth of leafy greens at the facility to gain these insights before breaking ground on their own vertical farming operations.
A Prototype for the Farm of the Future
STC plans to test the latest technology and growth strategies associated with the production model in hopes of increasing the industry’s understanding of the ideal growing conditions including but not limited to indoor farming crop light requirements.
The facility also allows potential investors and vertical farmers to work with STC’s plant scientists and vertical farming specialists in identifying and testing the perfect vertical farm set up for maximum intended harvest’s size, nutritional value, and visual appeal.
In a controlled environment, researchers can monitor and adjust the environmental factors that influence the plant growth including the length of the growing day, humidity, C02 concentration, as well as nutrients and temperature. This testing will help ensure that their proposed farm will be commercially viable prior to construction. The resulting data assists business planning and greatly reduces the risks associated with vertical farming.
GrowStack worked with TCE Electrical Ltd to Construct New Facility
Systems integrator GrowStack worked in conjunction with TCE Electrical Ltd to construct the “farm of the future”. The new facility is the latest research effort to be led by CHAP and Stockbridge Technology Centre (STC), a pioneer in experimental and applied horticulture research since the 1950s. Since its founding, STC has served as a bridged between academia and commerce, sharing valuable research and insight that has helped to transform farming practice in the UK.
The two identical grow rooms with a total growing area of 228m2 offer full climate control and a recirculating hydroponics system, and the facility also includes futuristic propagation and germination rooms. Some 780m of Arize LED grow lights illuminate four tiers of crop growth racks. According to Current, the Arize grow lights deliver a balanced spectrum of red and blue wavelengths that will help boost the growth progress of a broad assortment of plants.
Current Developed Arize Horticultural Lighting Solutions
Current by GE developed the Arize range of horticulture solutions based on the company’s experience in intelligent, connected industrial lighting. The company combined this experience with extensive research and collaboration with agriculture and horticulture experts to develop the grow lights.
The plug-and-play lights feature a fully sealed design with an IP66 UL Wet rating for easy cleaning in high-care, cleanroom environments.
Current boasts that Arize lighting is among the most energy-efficient grow lighting solutions available. According to Current, Arize uses less energy to power the LEDs and the system generates less heat than other available grow lights that tend to tax a facility’s cooling systems. The grow lights offer 36K-hour lifetime (L90). Also, Current by GE backs the Arize grow lights with a five-year warranty.
“As cities’ populations grow at an exponential rate, the demand for fresh produce grows as well,” said Dr Rhydian Beynon-Davies, head of novel growing systems at STC. “We have the potential to grow more produce at an industrial scale within our cities, and the focus of this new facility is to support the growers who are taking this bold step into the future of farming. By developing controlled environment grow systems integrated with LED lighting, we can demonstrate how, through technology, urban farming can improve the supply and nutritional value of food in a way that is commercially viable.”
Showing the Potential of Urban Farming with Arize
“Over the years, Stockbridge Technology Centre has been at the forefront of innovation, devoted to one of the most fundamental industries in the UK – that of feeding the population,” commented Malcolm Yare, horticulture business development manager for Current by GE. “Light is critical to the success of any crop and by focusing on combining the most effective wavelengths with the optimal environmental conditions, we can help growers outpace traditional methods by creating more “farmable space” in industrial and urban areas, increasing global harvests in a way that is both commercially and environmentally sustainable.”