GreenForges digs deep to cultivate underground – TechCrunch

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Generally vertical agriculture investigate. Aerofarms, Plenty, Gotham Greens – These companies are about to revolutionize agriculture by looking at the sky. In the large warehouse, a warehouse full of cultivation equipment rises to the top. But Philip Lovely is looking down. Labrie is CEO and Founder of Preseed Startup GreenForges, an underground farming company founded in 2019, is trying to integrate vertical farming technology under the building. Early in his career, Lovely believed he would also look to the skies to discover the agricultural potential of the rooftop greenhouse. But he actually realized that the sky had its limits.

“I came across a treatise analyzing the food production capacity that a city can produce using rooftop greenhouses,” he said. “It’s a relatively small number. The range of cities in 2050 is 2-5%. No one was asking “Can we grow underground? “”

Agriculture has always been a small activity fueled by space. When agriculture first appeared about 12,000 years ago, farmers had to clear forests for arable land. This destructive process took place on exactly that day. Farmers need more land to grow more food and earn more money. Traditional vertical farming has sought to solve this problem of land conversion by moving the farm to an urban environment and stacking the crops. But the warehouse still has to sit somewhere. GreenForges tries to take advantage of the space at our feet that is not otherwise used.

After two years of research and development, the company is planning the first pilot underground farm system in the north of Montreal in the spring of 2022. Zone Agtech, Incubator of agricultural technology. The company’s farming system uses existing controlled indoor farming techniques such as controlled LED lighting, hydroponics (soilless cultivation), humidity and temperature control, but adopts a new approach. ..

Instead of taking over a large warehouse, GreenForges will drill a 40-inch-diameter hole in the ground under the new building and lay the equipment there. Maintenance and harvesting is done by mechanically pulling the crop to a surface that can be fixed or picked by humans. While the pilot program places the farm at a depth of 15 meters, GreenForges has plans and models for farms up to 30 meters deep.

GreenForges shows how underground vertical farming is mechanically pulled to the surface so customers can easily select leafy vegetables from the ground. Image credit: GreenForges

According to Labrie, moving vertical agriculture from the surface to the ground has many other benefits. Some of them directly solve the biggest obstacle control environment that agriculture faces. Energy cost ..

“In the case of vertical surface agriculture, the outside temperature goes from high temperature to low temperature, humidity, drought, etc., so one of the biggest energy loads still has to run their system. HVAC. They only serve to preserve the environment. I have to work very hard [inside] It’s stable, ”Lovely said.

In some regions, energy costs increase the cost of vertical agricultural emissions and monetary amounts. By comparison For traditional agriculture. And that’s one of the main reasons many vertical farms stick to leafy vegetables. You can’t use too much energy to grow taller and enjoy others. However, when you go underground, you can quickly remove the challenge of maintaining a stable environment inside, while the changing environment exists outside.

Jamil Madanat, Head of Engineering at GreenForges, said: “This is where the holy grail of energy savings takes place. “

Madanato explained that underground temperatures are stable all over the world, regardless of the time of year or the environment. In Malaysia 10 meters deep at 20 degrees Celsius. In Canada, at a depth of 5 meters, the temperature stabilizes as follows: 10 degrees Celsius Whatever the temperature on the ground.

“The more stable the electricity and energy supply, the better the economy works,” says Madanato. “If you use a lot of power at once and have to drop it all at once, that’s not what the network likes. The network likes a stable supply.

Due to the stable temperature outside the underground farm, a stable energy demand creates significant energy savings and potential for sustainability. GreenForges can also do this with lighting by giving half daylight and the other half at night and alternating them. This ensures that the energy required for lighting is always the same.

Additionally, GreenForges is only interested in areas that derive most of their energy from renewables such as solar and hydroelectric power to avoid the additional environmental emissions associated with burning fossil fuels.

“It doesn’t make sense to burn things and grow food inside,” Labrie said.

GreenForges predicts that its underground system will improve energy efficiency by 30-40% compared to traditional vertical farming. Today, the company is particularly interested in traditional indoor crops such as leafy vegetables, herbs and berries. The company plans to produce around 2,400 lettuce each month on a 100-foot farm, or around £ 14,000 a year. However, Labrie hopes that the increased efficiency of GreenForges will allow him to switch to other crops, and even elusive and dramatic crops like wheat, in the future.

But, of course, underground growth is not without its obstacles. Creating equipment that expands to fit in a tunnel the size of two truck tires is a design challenge, Madanato says. The company had to create their own hardware solution to fit such a small space and extract the system. Moisture is another underground enemy the company is fighting against.

Unlike vertical agricultural leaders Plenty and Aerofarms, Green Forges doesn’t want to be a grocery brand. Instead, Labrie is focusing on attracting new builders of high-rise hotels and apartments, creating additional benefits and new sources of fresh produce for customers and tenants.

“There are many possibilities for integration into a building. There is interest from hotel companies and real estate developers, ”explains Labrie. “Integrating food production into a building is not as easy as it sounds. You have to sacrifice commercial space or a very expensive condo. So, with our solution, they take up underground space. Can be monetized. “

GreenForges Digs Deep To Harness The Subsoil – TechCrunch Source Link GreenForges Digs Deep To Harness The Subsoil – TechCrunch

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