future of protein production with plates with healthy food and protein

Vertical farming partnership has upward momentum

March 22, 2023

The New Zealand government’s priority to keep the country at the cutting edge of food production and lift its sustainability credentials continues by backing the next steps of a high-tech vertical farming venture that uses up to 95% less water, is climate resilient, and pesticide-free.

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor visited project partner Greengrower Ltd’s Controlled Environment Farming facility recently at the Waikato Innovation Park in Hamilton.

“Last year our food and fibre exports hit a record NZ$53.1 billion and we are investing to future proof this growth by being the best farmers for the world,” O’Connor said.

“As farmers and growers around the world grapple with less predictable growing conditions due to climate change, it’s key that we are looking to innovative solutions to shore up our production and food security. Through leading with new technology we can help other countries to do the same.

“Whilst conventional horticulture is reliant on the weather playing ball and providing high volumes of water, this kind of innovative vertical farming is done indoors and can use up to 95% less water to grow produce in half the time.

“This pilot commenced in July 2022 with help from our Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund and has successfully taken leafy greens to supermarkets with positive consumer feedback. The next phase of investment seeks to expand the system to other types of crop.

“Because Greengrower’s systems are controlled environments, there is also no soil degradation, chemical runoff, or required pesticides. Produce is ready to go from plant to plate without needing to be washed,” O’Connor added.

Greengrower subsidiary Sustineri is contributing NZ$5.29 million to the four-year program, with Massey University providing research and development support. The government has provided a NZ$3.53 million boost to support the four-year program.

“As the climate continues to change, it is imperative that we work to keep our primary sector agile and adaptable to future proof our food producing systems. This is just one of the many projects that the government has driven through Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures. NZ$530 million have now been co-invested with business to help shift the dial for our largest export sector and diversify our opportunities.

“New Zealand’s future economic security depends on our sustainability credentials and we’re investing in cutting-edge technology to stay positioned as world leaders,” O’Connor said.

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