Aberdeenshire farm grows upwards
Added on 06 June 2023
The 300-acre Waterside Farm, which grows wheat, barley, rye for distilling and hemp, recently invested in a vertical farm tower to grow alternative crops throughout the year and secure income year-round for the farm.
Graeme Warren, who manages the farm and the vertical farm business, Vertegrow, for owner Martin Dickie, Managing Director of Brewdog, explains: “There’s not much that grows in the north-east of Scotland outside April to October, so we were looking at ways we could diversify the business to fill the other six months of the year.
“With Martin’s background in food and drink, we knew there was demand for fresh, local produce from the restaurant trade and local retailers. “With consumers and businesses also increasingly discerning about how their food is grown and its sustainable credentials, and accustomed to buying outside seasonality, the vertical farm ticks a lot of boxes.
“It’s like another piece of farm machinery that helps us produce good food efficiently and effectively – and to meet our own ambitions to be a carbon neutral business.”
The sixth case study as part of RHASS Presidential Initiative’s exploration of the science behind food and drink takes a look at how vertical farming can co-benefit field-scale cropping to sustainably produce fresh food for a growing population.
The main focus at Vertegrow has been on growing leafy and micro greens and herbs in the nine-metre tower, which was installed on the farm last Autumn following two years of experimentation in shipping containers.
It was built by Scotland’s Intelligent Growth Solutions (IGS), which in addition to the engineering of the vertical ‘farm in a box’, has an extensive team of crop scientists based alongside the James Hutton Institute in Dundee who are constantly researching the perfect ‘recipe’ of conditions – airflow, light, nutrients and water – for different crop types.