City Farm Systems has taken my original thinking forward and created technology that allows urban farms to be sustainable, environmentally friendly AND economically viable. When distribution companies talk of the final mile being the most expensive there is nothing to be gained by placing the rural greenhouse model in an expensive city building. Saving a few motorway miles (or autobahn kms) will not cover expensive city overheads. It is only by distributing the growing and cutting all costs of distribution that will make a significant difference.
Our patents and registered trademarks cover our ability to install a largely automated modular greenhouse on a modern warehouse roof. Individual modules are proven but some of the transfer mechanisms to move crop trays to or from the roof need further work. Insurances and Health & Safety preclude routine workforce access to a roof so automation is key. Tracking trays with RFID offers enormous potential for data collection and processing. Lots of simple automation keep trays moving and brings them to a central corridor holding the transfer system and the sensors and cameras that allow online monitoring hence the name CloudGro® for the systems and CloudGrown® for the produce grown in them.
The next step is to develop the machine learning algorithms that can really unlock the full potential of creating grow to order crop plans and how /when to delay crop growth or harvest to match short term demand changes.
Jonathan has received congratulations from academics around the world when giving talks about the disruptive innovations required to make this work.
Future plans include applying for funding to extend the technologies to hasten crop research and to add harvesting hardware for crops such as strawberries - which could both increase capacity and speed of harvest.