9th August 2022
Controlled Environment Agriculture International Robotics Vertical Farming

iFarm Markets StackGrow Automation With Game-Changing Efficiency

iFarm new StackGrow
iFarms’ newest innovation, the StackGrow automation enables, through AI-driven software to increase a vertical farm’s production by 50% per square meter, reduce electricity costs by up to 30%, and drop labor costs by 12%.
As the industry seeks solutions to current challenges they are facing with labor costs, energy, etc. iFarm’s StackGrow technology approaches total automation. Their facility includes fully automated conveyors, lights, irrigation, and climate systems to produce fresh, pesticide-free greens. Thanks to the years of data collection iFarm can now leverage this database to calibrate ‘growth recipes’ which will, in turn, assist companies and vertical farm operators reduce their costs.
This high-tech mix of automated elevators and AI-driven irrigation solves very down-to-earth problems for farmers around the world. Real estate, labor, energy, and water scarcity are real concerns. Many governments are looking to ensure a local supply chain for fresh food for their populations. Qatar, for example, is pushing towards a goal of 70% locally grown vegetables by 2023 as part of its National Food Security Strategy.
StackGrow systems use up to 30% less energy than the previous generation of vertical farms, despite the fact that manual labor is largely replaced by machines. With current turmoil in the energy sector, this may be a substantive pain point or barrier to entry for many farm operators. When combined with the 12% reduction of labor costs, that could be a significant chunk of change and tip the ledger towards greater profitability. Part of the energy savings comes from the StackGrow racks being able to space the trays automatically, creating optimal crop density throughout the process. This allows planting of 1.5 times more pots per lighted area.

Labor makes up over 50% of the price of veggies, and this is even more relevant to countries with low labor availability. Plus, StackGrow has the added bonus of removing most manual labor from the process, making jobs at such farms more appealing. The GrowTune online interface automates all the key processes involved in vertical farming: climate, lightning, nutrition, troubleshooting, and optimization. It also helps with planning, monitors soil nutrients, sends notifications for harvest, and even provides video surveillance for security.

The company also states that their technology enables a 50% increase in yield per square meter of floorspace produced by StackGrow vs. traditional rack systems.
“Getting 1.5X the crop yield from a given facility drastically changes the economics of farming greens indoors, lowering the barrier to entry for businesses, and expanding the selection of financially feasible crops. While the initial set-up cost of an automated farm is slightly higher than a manual one, the pay-back period to recoup this investment is very low, often in the 4-5 year range. In some cases we are looking at the extra investment on automation paying itself back already in the first year of operation.” Timo Koljonen – iFarm, VP Sales
The barrier to entry is further lowered by the multifaceted support that the iFarm ecosystem provides. In addition to designing and setting up the farm itself, iFarm offers customized consumables such as seeds and plant nutrition, along with grow recipes and continuous tech support. Increasing economies of scale, ever-improving data analytics, and new technologies coming down the pipeline means that the already impressive performance of StackGrow and GrowTune products will only continue to provide greater tangible benefits for farmers around the world.

After intense testing, the StackGrow technology is now going to market, with several commercial projects already being built or designed. Some already have recurring contracts in place for their herbs and greens. iFarm invites all those interested in getting in the action or just learning more about StackGrow to get in touch with the team.

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