With a vision to feed Britain in a more resilient and sustainable way, Fischer Farms is building a new £25m vertical farm in the UK. Constructed on a 4-acre site in the English county of Norfolk, the new plant is set to become the world’s largest vertical farm.
Fischer Farms already has one of the UK’s largest vertical farm operations in Staffordshire where it grows a range of short leaf products via a stacked, biosecure, climate-controlled and fully automated system.
This second vertical farm in Norfolk will create 25,000 m² of growing space – enough to supply 6.5 tonnes of leafy greens (rocket, lettuce etc.), leafy herbs (basil) and other fresh produce to UK supermarkets every day.
Fischer Farms secured backing for the new Norfolk site in May with investment from Gresham House – an asset management company specialising in investments with a sustainable, positive impact.
Fischer Farms CEO, Tristan Fischer said: “Our plans use the very latest vertical farming innovations, pioneering technology and 100% renewable energy to enable us to farm more responsibly, sustainably and more productively in order to feed a growing population. As our production process is strictly controlled, we will also be able to guarantee a consistently higher quality, fresher tasting end product.
“Vertical farming enables us to be much more productive using less space. We can grow the same amount of food in our 4 acre building that you would take 1,000 acres of conventional British farmland. We will do it without using pesticides, herbicides or insecticides. Our produce will be grown locally in the UK; it will stay fresher for longer with no need to rinse; there are no traceability issues and we will slash food miles with our shorter ‘farm to fork’ times. The volumes grown locally also mean we can produce food at price points comparable to field-grown crops too and provide retailers with greater reliability of supply throughout the year, reducing the reliance on food imports and creating the potential for more local jobs.”
Scalable and more sustainable food production
Data analytics tools are used by Fischer Farms to optimise its fully automated growing, harvesting and reseeding systems. The business uses energy-efficient LED lighting which allows the lights to be very close to the tops of plants due to their low heat production. This in turn enables tightly stacked layers. The solar-powered facilities ensure a low carbon footprint whilst avoiding issues associated with traditional farming such as topsoil erosion or chemical run-off.
Over the next 10-15 years, Fischer Farms plans to scale up its operation and reduce its cost base to enable it to grow soya beans, rice and wheat in significant volumes and at price points that compare favourably to global commodity prices. Since the 1950s global soybean production has increased by more than fifteen times with a huge impact on deforestation, a vertical farming solution would help to reduce pressure on the global environment.
“Food supply chains and our planet are both under enormous strain. The Fischer Farms vision is to change the world by working with Nature 24 hours a day, every day of the year, to produce the freshest, safest and highest quality British-grown produce all year round in the most environmentally sustainable way.” concluded Fischer