Avisomo has developed a vertical farming concept called the “Growth Station”, reducing costs and increasing flexibility for vertical farmers. “We aim to provide the most accessible vertical farming system in the world, allowing any farmer to produce high-quality plants at a profit,” says Martin Molenaar, CEO of Avisomo.
Agriculture is a major contributor to global warming, emitting more greenhouse gases than the entire transportation sector. Farming also uses 70 per cent of the world’s fresh water and leads to harmful fertiliser runoff.
In order to feed a global population of 10 billion by 2050, food production will need to increase dramatically. However, it is not sustainable to rely on conventional agriculture alone. This is why innovative methods of food production are needed to grow more food with less impact on the environment.
Avisomo provides an innovative alternative to other vertical farming systems. In the Growth Station, the trolleys containing the produce are disconnected from all technology and can be freely moved around the facility. This eliminates the preset queue of conventional systems.
“Our system plans the optimal route for the crops throughout their growth cycle. Each crop follows a plant ‘recipe’ that tells human operators or automated robots which conditions the crop requires at its current phase of growth. Then the Growth Station provides the optimal lighting, irrigation and airflow,” explains Molenaar.
In addition, the software continuously updates and optimises the recipes based on the growing data collected over time.
Growers can choose a level of automation that matches their market conditions and local labour costs, focusing on either CAPEX or OPEX reduction. They can also grow a variety of crops in the same facility, increasing flexibility. Moreover, the scalable system reduces investment risk, as it can be deployed in stages.
Vertical farming has the potential of providing huge environmental benefits, according to Molenaar.
“Our vertical farming system uses 99 per cent less water and 90 per cent less land area than normal farming. We also completely eliminate the use of pesticides typically used in conventional agriculture. Plus, we are able to produce plants indoors 365 days a year,” he says.
This means that crops can be grown year-round in harsh climates or even in places with no fertile land. Crops grown nearer the consumer reduce transport emissions, retain more nutrients and have a longer shelf life.
“We are addressing some of the planet’s greatest challenges, such as food insecurity and environmental degradation. If vertical farming goes mainstream, we can free up immense areas of agricultural land and re-establish the soil’s CO₂ sequestering abilities,” he continues.
The global market for vertical farming is expected to grow from USD 4 billion in 2022 to USD 20 billion by 2029. Molenaar is not surprised by these figures. He sees enormous potential for controlled environment farming solutions.
“Right now vertical farming is used for a limited number of crops, but the technology is advancing quickly and costs are dropping. I don’t agree with the general belief that wheat, rice and other carbohydrates cannot be grown indoors. I think we will get there sooner rather than later,” he says.
There seem to be others who share this belief, as Avisomo just raised EUR 2 million in a seed round. The financing will be used to build a proof-of-concept, fully automated test facility in Norway, laying the groundwork for an international scaling process.
Currently, the Avisomo system is mainly used to produce high-value fresh greens, herbs and microgreens, but tomatoes and cucumbers have been piloted with great success. The customer target group is established growers and food industry players who already have access to markets worldwide.
Avisomo is a member of the NCE Heidner Biocluster, Norway’s national cluster for bioeconomy and sustainable food production.
2. Zero hunger
Avisomo’s vertical farming system increases food security by improving crop yields.
12. Responsible consumption and production
Avisomo’s vertical farming system increases the sustainability of agriculture by reducing water and pesticide use, fertiliser runoff and carbon emissions.