Australia’s peak industry body for horticultural growers has joined with agricultural consultants and researchers at New South Wales’ University of Technology Sydney (UTS) to explore the potential in various types of intensive, indoor urban cropping systems.
Consultancies RMCG and Agritecture will partner with UTS researchers in a six-month feasibility study that aims to identify the opportunities and challenges for high technology horticulture in urban Australia.
According to Hort Innovation CEO Matt Brand in a recent media release, “Bringing such technology to Australia will attract capital and new entrants to the sector…. It gives us the opportunity to grow more from less. Urban in this context also captures regional areas and hubs.”
The study will assess the applicability of various high-technology systems to urban and regional Australian environments, considering regulation and planning; farm input and waste; supply-chain logistics; and social, environmental and economic factors.
It will model the social, economic and environmental impacts of traditional and high-tech protected horticultural cropping systems and analyse how the economics of conventional fruit and vegetable growing operations compare to those of high-tech urban systems.
An industry-led reference group including growers, commercial entities engaged in high-tech urban horticulture, members of local city councils, and subject-matter experts in protected-cropping experts will guide the study.
Greenhouse and hydroponic consultant Graeme Smith said, “The benefits to growers and Australia by use of technology such as vertical farm systems and hydroponics is local fresh food production and delivery systems that have the potential to redefine horticulture by optimising yield, quality, produce uniformity with reliability of supply every day of the year with little to no supply gaps.
“These new systems certainly are the modern face of horticulture that should complement the current supply chain in a key range of nutritious and delicious produce,” Smith said.
Source: Bringing high tech horticulture to urban areas in Australia – rooftop, underground and floating farms I Hort Innovation