VertiFarm 2023: Innovative technologies securing food
Added on 27 September 2023
The climate crisis has long since become so significant that it has to be taken into consideration in all aspects. Droughts and floods are already posing a threat to global supplies of food and drinking water. On top of this, the world's population continues to grow. According to the UN annual report, 768 million people were already affected by hunger in 2021. This is increasingly confronting agriculture with ever greater tasks because the need to adapt to climate change and the need to secure fresh and healthy food supplies for the population both call for major structural transformation in agriculture and for crop production and crop utilisation to be sustainable, efficient and demand-driven.
“Global food security and production of food directly in urban areas are among the most urgent challenges of our time. With numerous innovative suppliers, competent partners and proven industry experts, VertiFarm will for the second time in a row be highlighting potential solutions, novel technologies and products for meeting global supply needs,” explained Sabine Loos, chief show organiser and Managing Director of Westfalenhallen Unternehmensgruppe which owns and operates the Messe Dortmund venue.
Trade visitors to VertiFarm, the unique next-level farming and new food systems show, between 26 and 28 September 2023 will experience a comprehensive showcase showing how transformation of the agricultural economy can succeed in a workable way with regard to technological, ecological, economic and social aspects. Decision-makers and stakeholders in agribusiness and in the retail, food and pharmaceutical industries as well as food retailers, the hospitality trade, local authorities, municipalities and urban planning professionals will obtain a detailed overall view of controlled production systems. This includes vegetables, fruit, salads, herbs, alternative protein sources, mushrooms and microgreens as well as fish, algae and insect farming and cultivation of medicinal plants.
"At VertiFarm, controlled environment agriculture (CEA) will be presented as a workable solution for the future for predictable harvest planning, disruption-free supply chains, improved waste footprints and minimisation of the high greenhouse gas emissions from the agricultural sector,” continued Loos. This informative buyer-meets-seller platform will also offer plenty of space for inspiration, networking and business matchmaking between manufacturers, distributors and other key industry players.
International suppliers representing entire spectrum of CEA
VertiFarm 2023 will provide a comprehensive market overview of controlled production systems and tomorrow's cultivation and breeding methods, with exhibitors coming from countries including Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Italy and the UK (including Scotland), as well as from Asia and North and South America. They include leading technology groups, specialist suppliers and start-ups.
This year, Bosch Rexroth with its technical automation expertise in the field of drive and control technology will be joining exhibitors for the first time. Innovative solutions and technologies surrounding plant management, environmental control systems, robotics and automation will also be on show from SIEMENS, and technology supplier Würth Elektronik will be back showing its key horticulture LED lighting components. Numerous other exhibitors are also taking part again and have confirmed their stand bookings – in some cases with increased space – including Norwegian company Avisomo with a wide range of products for setting up plant factories and growing in nutrient solutions (hydroponics). Also attending once again will be Swedish supplier WIVID, an expert in development and production of high-performance, energy-efficient horticultural lighting fixtures. Also of great interest will be the proposition available from Dutch company MechaTronix Europe, a leader in the field of innovative LED growth lamps. Also travelling over from the Netherlands will be PRIVA Horticulture. The innovative developer of state-of-the-art horticultural and greenhouse technology already sells its technical applications such as process computers and their peripherals in over 100 countries across the world. Bosman van Zaal, a Dutch specialist in plant production systems and ventilation and water treatment systems in the food, floriculture and pharmaceutical sectors, will also be present for the second time. Germany's Menno Chemi-Vertrieb will once again be demonstrating its extensive expertise in hygiene management as it relates to plant production.
The leading-edge vertical farming hub will also be welcoming businesses from Germany: vGreens Holding with its technological innovations for premium fruit and crop production. ROKO Farming will be on hand, informing trade visitors succinctly on engineering, project management and general planning matters, and on the appropriate hardware and software for indoor farming projects. SEAWATER Cubes' expertise on decentralised sea fish supply is also eagerly awaited. Plant processing and sorting machines will also be on show in Dortmund from Dutch company TTA. Scottish platform expert for climatic conditions, Intelligent Growth Solutions, will also be in attendance, and Vertical Future – also from the UK – will be presenting new production systems which are in use across the world. Canobi from Canada develops advanced automation and monitoring equipment and will be offering an augmented reality tour of an indoor farm using Canobi technology. Danish company Seasony automates core processes in vertical farms using the mobile robot Watney and provides farmers with valuable data.
Vertical farming in use for pharmaceutical and cosmetic products
The pharmaceutical and cosmetics industries can also benefit from new cultivation systems and, in the medium term, meet the steadily increasing demand for medicinal plants for health care and in the beauty sector. Supplier RHENAC GREEN TEC develops and produces innovative LED plant lighting systems under scientific supervision and will present a new plant analysis tool together with PHARMAPLANT. PHARMAPLANT focuses on cultivation and domestication of new plant species for the cultivation of medicinal, spice and tea plants, etc.. ams-OSRAM is a respected LED lighting technology supplier and will present its expertise in cannabis cultivation and production of medicinal plants. Also leading the way in this area is FUJIAN SANANBIO TECHNOLOGY with state-of-the-art growth lighting which is used for cannabis plants, among other things. The forum talk by Pim Molenaars from Cultivators entitled “Growing medicinal cannabis is pharma, not food” also promises to be captivating.
>>> View list of exhibitors
Sponsorship: support and expertise from China
The importance of VertiFarm is underlined by FUJIAN SANANBIO TECHNOLOGY's sponsorship of the show. The highly respected company from China, which won the Vertical Farming World Award as recently as 2022, works closely with farmers, engineers, scientists and designers. With its best-in-class technology, the photo-biotech supplier meets the world's most exacting requirements for building a sustainable global food system for vertical agriculture. As a supporter of the show, the LED grow light manufacturer will also have its own stand at the event.
Top-class supporting programme
The three-day stage programme will include educational, partly interactive knowledge modules and will be complemented by superb content at the AVF Summit 2023 in the 'Kongress' conference area. Keynote talks and discussion panels featuring experts in agriculture, science, industry and start-up businesses will address the future of food and agriculture as it goes through this period of transition. The focus topics include "Innovation & Technology", "Finance & Funding", "Ecological & Economical Balance" and "Efficiencies". The following four big-name expert presentations on stage in Hall 4, for example, are eagerly awaited:
'Controlled environment agriculture – Setting the next step'
Speaker: Sabine Cecere, Account Manager, Digital Industries for Food & Beverage / New Food at Siemens AG
'Vertical Farming: Profitable or not? – It depends on the Use Case'
Speaker: Johann Waldherr, Business Development Manager, Electronic Power & Lighting Solutions at Würth Elektronik eiSos GmbH & Co KG
'Enabling the human grower with smart tech'
Speaker: Luis Trujillo, President & General Manager, Hoogendoorn USA
Martin Van Tol, LetsGrow.com
'Getting your produce to retail - the secret of long-term partnerships'
Speaker: Wannes Voorend, R&D Coordinator in Energy, Environment and Biotech at Colruyt Group
>>> Overview of the entire supporting programme
On-site event: the 7th International AVF Summit
Once again, the Association for Vertical Farming (AVF), the world's leading non-profit organisation in its field, will be holding its annual two-day scientific congress in tandem with VertiFarm, with prominent scientists, industry and government representatives and investors discussing a variety of key topics at the event on 26 and 27 September in Hall 4:
Science & Research – highlighting how far the science of vertical farming still is from reality and how research and industry can be linked to understand the current challenges of industry and identify what gaps need filling.
Technology & Sustainability – next-level farming and new food systems focusing increasingly on new technologies, examining the possibilities for sustainable use of technical concepts and tools with the potential to help businesses increase the yield and quality of plants, and to reduce costs.
Food & Cities – indoor and vertical farming are indispensable when it comes to enabling comprehensive urban supplies of nutritious, healthy foods. But what do cities need to make this happen, and what is the vertical farming industry (already) able to deliver? Establishment of a city network as a blueprint will be discussed.
In addition, some of the most promising start-ups in the fields of agriculture, renewable energy and sustainable technology will be presented. They will have the unique opportunity to present their innovative solutions to a panel of experts and potential investors, opening the door to new partnerships and funding opportunities.
>>> AVF SUMMIT
VertiFarm offers platform for studies and research
Oberhausen-based research body the Fraunhofer Institute for Environmental, Safety and Energy Technology UMSICHT will present, among other things, an innovative agricultural system enabling regional production of high-quality food in urban environments. Show-goers will also be able to discover more about the ALMARKTgarten in Oberhausen where an in-building sustainable agricultural production facility complete with cultivation areas for fruit and vegetables was created on the roof of the Job Centre. Using the SUSKULT project as an example, the institute will also be explaining the use of sewage treatment plants as a source of nutrients, enabling the nutrients occurring in sewage treatment plants to be used for closed-cycle cultivation of horticultural products. The presentation of the LightSaverAI project, for which a working demonstrator has been developed for requirement-led control of plant lighting, will illustrate how AI can create demand-optimised illumination for production systems in indoor farms.
The Southern Westphalia University of Applied Sciences will also be presenting new research projects: The EU-funded H2020 project 'proGIreg' is investigating nature-based solutions for the regeneration of post-industrial areas and implementing these in real-life laboratories with an eye to outcomes that are practicable. Two aquaponics greenhouses have been on display since 2023 in the grounds of the Hansa coking plant in Dortmund. At the beginning of the year, the Department of Agricultural Economics at the Southern Westphalia University of Applied Sciences also launched the EU project 'INCiTiS-Food' (Horizon Europe). This brings together 23 partners conducting research into hydroponics, aquaponics and insect production in eight real-life laboratories. In the facilities in Sierra Leone, Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon, Gabon and Kenya, young people are learning about the three new approaches and a range of different technologies. The aim is not just to enable self-sufficiency based on healthy food, but to market the harvests or the systems themselves, where possible.
Specialist excursion through the Netherlands and thence to VertiFarm
The Netherlands is considered an innovation-leader in lower water consumption and reduced carbon and methane emissions. So what better place to immerse oneself in subject matter related to vertical farming and new food systems? VertiFarm had invited visitors on an exciting tour of the Netherlands, the world's largest agricultural exporter, on the day before the show commences. Here, experts learned in real-life settings how an automated vertical farm can be set up. Stops included the Bosman Van Zaal company on the subject of intelligent plant production systems and an algae plant on the subject of alternative proteins. The final stop was a visit to a fully automated ornamental flower production facility.