by Maarten Vandecruys, Urban Crop Solutions
Indoor farming has been around for a while now and organisations of different sizes have implemented this technology as part of their supply chain. But which size of farm actually makes most financial sense? What level of automation should be chosen? Where do robotics come in?
Maarten was a speaker at the 2020 edition of the Vertical Farming Conference.
What drives you?
I am driven by creating a positive impact on our planet and our client’s business case through the combination of indoor plant biology and factory engineering.
Why should the delegate attend your presentation?
The return on investment depends on a wide range of factors: market, crop, system size and implemented technologies. With 6 years of experience in indoor farming and systems operational in multiple continents, more insights are given in this complex matrix.
What emerging technologies/trends do you see as having the greatest potential in the short and long run?
The biggest impact that still can be made in our industry, is having crops which have been bred specifically for indoor production. Nowadays, every indoor farmer is growing crops which have been bred for open field or greenhouse agriculture. These crops require high resistance towards for example diseases. Indoor farming on the other hand, doesn’t have these challenges in the same extent and a higher focus could lie on quality, taste and nutrition.
What kind of impact do you expect them to have?
Through a holistic approach of breeding programs, these new cultivars can give more functional attributes to our crops, positively impacting not only health, nutrition and well being, but also the business case of all parties involved.
What are the barriers that might stand in the way?
The real challenge lies in open collaboration through the entire value chain where all stakeholders need to be involved. It all starts with the end consumer and his/her needs. But just as important is the distribution sector having specific crop quality requirements and specifications tailored to those needs. Technology providers in the current state of the industry, all have their own platform lacking standardisation. Breeders for their part need then to set up programs to comply with all these parties.
The ROI of indoor farming is determined by both external and internal factors. We strive to cover the latter by combining indoor plant biology and factory engineering.
About Maarten Vandecruys
Maarten co-founded Urban Crop Solutions and leads the R&D department. The company delivers indoor vertical farming solutions across the world: hardware, software and crop growth recipes.
About Urban Crop Solutions
Urban Crop, a total solutions provider in the indoor vertical farming industry. Offering science-based and tailor-made technology for crop cultivation.