Vertical Field an Israeli ag-tech company that specializes in vertical farming, has signed an agreement with Emirates Smart Solutions & Technologies (ESST) a company that develops agricultural projects in the Persian Gulf, to deploy pilot vertical farms as a first stage to full-scale deployments in the United Arab Emirates.

Vertical Field develops vertical agricultural farms that enable crops to grow in the city. Its technology enables produce to grow on a bed of soil (geoponically) inside of repurposed shipping containers.

The company says its technologies “enable high-quality crops to grow quickly and efficiently in optimum conditions without the use of chemical fertilizers or pesticides. These customizable urban farms can grow a range of fresh crops for supermarkets, restaurants, urban farmer's markets, and distribution centers.

Vertical Field's technology, the company says, is more efficient and less wasteful than conventional agricultural methods, using 90% less water, and growing precise quantities of produce in a controlled environment.

Produce inside containers can therefore grow 365 days a year, are not limited to seasonality constraints, weather conditions, extreme climate events, or geographic location. The farms are modular, expandable, and moveable, and can be managed automatically. Produce is grown in a sterile container with minimal human interference. Crops that are currently grown in the farm include: several varieties of lettuce, basil, parsley, kale, mint, and more, which are sold at competitive prices.

Within the framework of the UAE agreement, Vertical Field will conduct a pilot project that will ascertain the most suitable crops for the local market. The project will be conducted with the professional support and oversight of the Company's Israeli agronomists.

The vertical farm is designed to provide local and on-site produce that is free of chemical pesticides and fertilizers for both commercial establishments as well as the private sector. The first stage of the project will be launched in the United Arab Emirates, and is expected to expand into a multi-million-dollar partnership that will include deployments in additional states of the Gulf region.

The first farm will be installed in Umm Al Quwain as part of a research, development, and training center, which is expected to support additional projects in the rest of the Gulf states.

According to the market research firm Markets and Markets, in 2020, the vertical farming industry reached US$2.9 billion and is expected to reach US$7.3 billion by 2025.

Paul Barker