Vertically Urban, an expert in horticultural lighting, and LettUs Grow, an aeroponic farm, have teamed up to increase research capacity at an award-winning vertical farm in York. The facility, known as ‘Grow it York’, is home to a research team led by Professor Katherine Denby from the University of York’s Center for Novel Agricultural Products (CNAP).
Grow it York is housed in one of LettUs Grow’s state-of-the-art Drop & Grow container farms and is located in the heart of the city as part of an outlying area called Spark. Grow it York grew out of the wider ‘FixOurFood’ program to explore the role vertical farming can play in driving positive change within food systems, benefiting health, the environment and the economy.
FixOurFood is a research collaboration between several academic institutions. The goal is to transform local food networks and develop regenerative systems that create a fairer and more sustainable future for the production, sale and consumption of food. These goals fit perfectly with the company’s missions for both Vertically Urban and LettUs Grow.
Over the past few months, teams from both companies have been working tirelessly to adapt the Grow it York farm. The plant now has a full complement of adjustable Horti-Blade grow lights and an upgraded version of Ostara farm management software. This joint investment, funded by Vertically Urban and LettUs Grow respectively, will significantly expand the scope of research that can be conducted by the facility, increasing the program’s potential overall impact.
Vertical Urban’s Horti-Blade
Professor Katherine Denby added: “The installation of Vertically Urban’s adjustable spectrum lights, in combination with the improved Ostara farm management software, is a major step forward for our vertical farming research. It means we can not only look at the range of varieties for vertical farms , but also how changing the intensity and spectrum of light affects the yield and quality of the crops. For example, with Dr. Daphne Ezer’s computational biology group, we are investigating how a gradual sunrise can increase yield.”
The mutually beneficial partnership includes an ongoing free exchange of expertise and data. The overall goal is the development and use of LED lighting in vertical farms to create positive changes within food systems for the benefit of health, the environment and the economy.
“The University of York is a world-renowned research institution on our doorstep, so I’m really excited about the opportunities this relationship brings,” said Andrew Littler, Director of Vertically Urban. He continues: “We’ve worked hard to get to this point and I can’t think of a better partner than LettUs Grow to work with.
LettUs Grow’s aeroponics technology
Ben Crowther, CTO of LettUs Grow, added: “Grow it York was one of our first Drop&Grow farms. With this upgrade, research can really impact the vertical farming industry. Earlier this year we launched our announced partnership with Vertically Urban to Install Horti-Blade as standard in our Drop&Grow container farms and this partnership strengthens the ties Horti-Blade lights have an incredibly good efficiency and form factor that helps us achieve our goal of delivering powerful, impactful products to our product customers. “
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