Plantagon is an innovative vertical farming company based in Sweden that has just broken ground on its first farm there. This is a big step forward for the company and vertical farming in general and has been reported on by many of the usual suspects: TreeHugger, Inhabitat, Archinect, and Agriculture.com. Here are some pics of the design that they are supposedly building:
A larger design of theirs:
And now the Plantagon “Helix” design:
And one more:
This company’s main focus is on constructing highly sophisticated automated systems that move crops from their infancy to harvest day upwards through the structure in order to guarantee optimal light distribution for the crops. I doubt that this rotating design can replace the need for artificial light as there is no way to evenly distribute the sunlight for all the crops which severely inhibits the feasibility of even harvests. Balanced, manageable, and predictable harvests are fundamental to the financial feasibility of dense urban farming projects because some of the founding principles for BIA are to improve food security, and urban crop profitability. Furthermore, the energy required for the mechanization that Plantagon plans to install for its systems is likely to cost copious amounts of energy.
Check out all of these inputs and outputs that they are designing!
For the moment, I will join the skeptics on this one. I just can’t seem to wrap my head around how this project will be successful in the near future. Eventually it might but for now it seems like a waste of resources when there are so many simpler solutions that they could be breaking ground on. I believe that we need to build up to vertical farms by improving the efficiency of the dense urban farming technologies that we have right now. Skipping over those development steps could prove to only worsen the environmental problems vertical farming aims to improve by using excising amounts of resources to build “utopia farms”.
I will end by saying that I do admire their perseverance and risk-taking. We need more of that from sustainable small businesses. Furthermore, Plantagon’s transparency demands respect as many VF companies are very protective of their techniques and projects. I also find their unique “companization" organizational structure fascinating and innovative. It is also interesting to note that the majority of the company itself (~80%) belongs to a New York State native American tribe. While this collaboration is unusual, it does represent a creative partnership which certainly keeps Plantagon afloat and could reap rewards for the Onondagas tribe in the long-run. To read a more critical assessment of the Plantagon vertical farming project and its partnership with “the people of the hills”, check out this article on Syracuse.com.
Plantagon has some very cool designs, mechanized systems, and is pushing the envelop in vertical farming perhaps more than any other business. I wish them the best on their new project and eagerly await the days that we can see images of the construction and eventually assess the success of the project.