Yasai AG, a vertical farming start-up spun out from ETH Zürich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich) has entered into a strategic agreement with Helsinki-based iFarm and Netherlands-based Logiqs B.V. to help it establish Zurich’s first vertical farm. Yasai says the facility will focus on growing herbs such as basil, mint, coriander, rosemary, rocket, chives, shiso green, and mizuna.
Yasai AG has selected Logiqs and iFarm as technology partners in the construction of a pilot facility that will provide 673m² of growing area, with a design capacity of 20 tonnes of fresh herbs per year. Logiqs will supply automated shelving systems and grow lights, while iFarm will supply the nutrient solution management system, climate control equipment, and its Growtune cloud-based software platform, which enables flow chart implementation and control over production conditions and processes.
Depending on local authority approval, Yasai says it expects to sell the first produce grown from the Zurich facility by the end of summer 2021. Going forward, the partners plan to scale up the experience of rapidly constructing an automated, compact, high-performance vertical farm, gained in the Swiss project, across the globe.
Agricultural cooperative fenaco National Products is also helping with the project, having invested CHF500,000 (US$550,000) in Yasai, late last year.
“The project will not just be limited to the testing and fine-tuning of state-of-the-art innovative solutions,” explained Mark Essam Zahran, co-founder, Yasai. “We expect to lay the groundwork for large-scale industrial vertical farming in smart cities and showcase the incredible benefits of a circular economy. A plantation in the largest Swiss city, one of the most expensive cities in the world, will help us assess the economic prospects and give other European cities an example of how to produce an abundant yield without harming the planet, plants, and people.”
“The Swiss project opens up interesting prospects for us,” added Gert-Jan van Staalduinen, the owner of Logiqs, which produces automated warehousing and logistics systems for agricultural products. “We expect a fruitful collaboration with Yasai experts and a beneficial exchange of best practices with iFarm. With our vast experience in implementing automation and logistics systems on farms, we will be able to build a technologically advanced farm in the very heart of Europe.”
“We appreciate how meticulous and scrupulous Yasai is and are impressed by their passion and drive,” concluded Kirill Zelenski, CEO, iFarm Europe. “We are just as inspired by the prospect of working with seasoned professionals from Logiqs. We hope that our software technologies will perfectly complement their hardware and the project as a whole will become a lasting benchmark for the industry and will serve as the beginning of a long-term cooperation.”"