Tech Tyfu – Vertical Farming in North Wales

Jodie and Helen (accompanied by Amelia and Will Bailey) attended the launch of Tech Tyfu hosted by Menter Mon this week. Tech Tyfu is an exciting new project – a vertical farming pilot scheme for Gwynedd and Ynys Môn. The project co-ordinator – Luke Tyler is looking to recruit growers to the first hydroponics scheme of its kind in North Wales, the growing system involves a reservoir of nutrient-rich solution which is pumped to the plant crop, allowing growth without soil.

Luke explains “We are exploring opportunities that will help Wales adapt to post-Brexit challenges, and are looking for innovative people to have a go at using this pivotal technology which will become increasingly important in the food production of the future. These pioneer growers will have their chance to experience hydroponics and will inspire them to develop the technology in their own direction. We will create a skill-sharing forum, with growers exchanging their learning experiences and collaborating on supply chains.

While vertical farming might seem more familiar in urban contexts, it has in fact got significant potential for development in North Wales. In particular, existing farmers understand supply chains and markets for selling food, and often have access to agricultural buildings which could house vertical farming units. Sometimes, anaerobic digesters are available on farms, which can generate heat from manure. This could allow vertical farming to produce food all year round. North Wales also boasts many high-end restaurants, benefiting to a large extent from the tourism industry, and as such creates a demand for high-value fruit and veg, which can be easily and efficiently grown through hydroponics.

Hydroponics can use as little as 10% of the water used in conventional agriculture, and this increased water efficiency could allow crops to be grown successfully in times of drought, such as the summer of 2018, where Welsh farmers suffered serious losses. As the impact of climate change becomes more noticeable, more such periods of drought are highly likely in the near future. There will also be increased intensity of rainfall, which could lead to waterlogging and crop-losses from anoxic conditions. In the longer term, rising sea levels will reduce the land available for agriculture, which poses a real threat to our food security. Our scheme will help position food production in North Wales to be more resilient, and open another door for farmers, businesses and restaurants looking for strategic ways to diversify”.

Businesses or individuals based in Gwynedd or Ynys Môn are encouraged to apply to trial the vertical farming equipment to become “Pioneer Growers”, Menter Mon have 5 units available – be quick though as applications need to be with Luke by 9th March 2020. The units include two nutrient film technique (NFT) systems suited to grow crops such speciality leaves, and three flood and drain systems ideal for growing microgreens.

Helen or Jodie would be happy to chat to you about the event which they attended, if this would be of interest please call them in the office on 01341 241700 or email enquiries@baileysandpartners.co.uk

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