“If you can have a system that’s independent of the climate, the weather and availability of land you’ve got a very disruptive new food supply system and that’s what indoor vertical farming can potentially do,” says Professor Colin Campbell of the James Hutton Institute, a Scottish research centre that works alongside IGS to build technology for vertical farms. “It takes the weather and puts it inside a box.”
But it is not cheap and it is why most vertical farms are currently in wealthy countries despite the fact that most of the additional people the planet will need to feed by 2050 will live in the developing world.
According to proponents of vertical farming such as David Farquhar, the serial entrepreneur who runs IGS, while the technology is still at the starting gate, the potential global environmental and societal benefits of vertical farming are huge.
“It can do a huge amount of good. You can help to feed people, improve the quality of produce people get, reduce food miles and reduce the use of chemicals,” he says.