Commercial scale of food computer


#1

Guys!

I was working with my friends to make a vertical farm in Europe.
We want to make a food computer which can control 1000 sqm scale.
Could you give me some thought of cost and MVP?
We want to put minimum required functions into it.

Thanks


#2

You may be interested in this thread, I made a post recently helping someone with a similar goal. Also, where are you located?


#3

Thank you very much! We are located in Madrid Spain. Our goal is setting up a farm commercializable size and supplying to supermarket chains like Carrefour by mass-producing vegetables. Since the completed package seems expensive, I was looking for DIY solutions.


#4

I personally think that for right now, an entirely controlled environment while essential for research, is too capital intensive to be profitable. I am putting my focus on utilizing the OpenAg platform for education. I do however think there is incredible long term potential though for its development.

  1. Are you pursuing this as a nonprofit or a for profit and how large/what level of experience does your team have? Take a look at this post by Caleb: Perpetual AMA for Caleb

  2. Why OpenAg/Indoor Farming as opposed to non-computerized DIY guides or building a greenhouse?

  3. Who currently supplies the products you’re trying to replace in Spain? I say this having 0 personal experience, but from what I’ve heard the greenhouse industry dominates produce in Europe. The reason so many farms are able to be successful in the U.S. is good marketing to stores who want “local” and “fresh” produce, if the lettuce is already fresh in Spain though, the price increase may not be justifiable to retailers.


#5

Thanks Peter.

  1. We are doing this for a profit. We are business school students. We have background in tech, agriculture, and finance. Unfortunately, we don’t have much experience in this field. We are approaching more in business perspective, so we need more technical help. We are currently validating wether we could make money. Several investors are already interested in this idea. Our goal is to reduce the current supply chain and provide fresh natural veggies local cities. Our basic idea is controlling environment like AeroFarm in the U.S., but we are still open to the way of growing. The tech doesn’t have to be super accurate. We are going to start with minimum required level and will improve gradually.

  2. We are targeting at urban scale farming, so building a greenhouse might not be a good solution. Our main target is shortening supply chain between farmers and customers by using vertical farming.

  3. We haven’t decided yet regarding the location. But, we are considering some European countries where have barren lands, unfavourable weather for farming, huge population and subsidies from government. For example, Spain wouldn’t be a good location because electricity is very expensive and they can self-supply veggies, not relying on importing agricultural products. Based on our research, we are not probably growing salad veggies like lettuce. We are looking for high margin seeds such as herbs, tomato… Once we prove that it is working well by testing, we will commercialise it as soon as possible.


OpenAg™ Personal Food Computer v2.0 (beta) [Documentation Release]
#6

Few notes:

  1. This is not the industry if you’re looking to get rich quick. That’s not to say one cannot make money, but the reality is we’re still very early, and without massive capital reserves it would be very difficult to scale.

  2. The reality is that food retailers actually want the food grown close to their distribution centers, not their actual stores in the city. These tend to be on the outskirts of major cities (this is a good thing for us as it makes land cheaper). I bring it up though because the reality is in Europe it will be very hard to compete with the existing greenhouse industry I think. This is similar to BrightFarms Business model, this is a very interesting talk by the CEO. Interestingly enough, he actually used to write software for produce supply chains: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ZDLo8yNxgY

  3. I suggest you really look into the different types of plants you’d like to grow and the feasibility of building a system that can compete at scale. For example: Tomatoes and herbs are grown completely differently and require very different setups (tomatoes are very tall, have a much longer growth cycle, and require way more lighting). I have yet to see an urban farm make any money growing “higher” plants other than Cannabis. That being said the U.S. tomato industry went from 10% to 40% greenhouse grown within the space of 7 years, so when the economics make sense, it is completely possible.


#7

Thanks for your advice!

The idea of BrightFarms is very similar to ours. Like you said, we are thinking about setting up the farm outskirt of a city or inside. We also recognise that the technology is still early stage and is not economically profitable. So, we would like to maintain lean manufacturing by investing minimum requirement, but update later following current technology development.

We analyse several crops profitability, but salad vegetables like lettuce is not profitable at all. If we can grow some “higher” plants, we would like to. I saw some articles regarding Sharp, Japanese Company. They grow strawberry in a vertical farm in UAE. I don’t know whether actually we can grow such a high profitable fruits and vegetables.

Anyway, thank you for your advice. I would like to keep getting touch with you.