UK – Scientists at Nottingham Trent University have developed container farms that are said to be capable of producing more nutritious and high-yielding crops compared to those grown in the field.

They have created two vertical container farms that use a variety of automated feeding and environmental control systems to create the ideal growing conditions all year round.

According to a FoodBev report, each container farm is capable of producing three to five tonnes of crops a year.

The project was developed by scientists at the university’s School of Animal, Rural and Environmental Sciences in collaboration with scientists at Huazhong University of Science and Technology in China.

The farms were supposedly created for teaching and research but could be utilized to showcase the potential for precision agriculture as means of addressing global challenges in food production.

Stressing on the importance of better farming management concepts in solving the global challenges for food security and safety, the university indicated that nearly 70% of the UK’s fruit and vegetables currently comes from abroad.

“We want to address food security and sustainable agriculture issues by developing new farming systems which can provide an improved crop quality and yield,” said Chungui Lu, professor of sustainable agriculture at Nottingham Trent University.

“We believe that there is enormous potential for urban agriculture and vertical farming to meet these emerging challenges.

“Container farms have optimum growing conditions from germination right through to harvest.

“It is a hugely efficient and sustainable way of growing very fresh vegetables and some fruit all year round.”

The produce is grown vertically on racks using various LED light and nutrient ‘recipes’ to stimulate growth, giving crops higher yields, more flavour and increased nutrition.

Crops are also grown using hydroponics and aeroponics to ensure optimum health and productivity.

“Container farms the size of ours would be able to produce three to five tonnes of crops per year.

Producing natural and sustainable local food under such protected conditions could be very attractive for a range of organisations, such as supermarkets and restaurants.

The system is also completely autonomous so people wouldn’t need to know how to operate it,” added Chungui Lu.

Some of the urban farming companies utilizing precision agriculture concept include BrightFarms, Gotham Greens and Agricool.