COP26 Leadership Series: David Farquhar, CEO of Intelligent Growth Solutions

  • Thought Leadership

On Wednesday 6th October, FWB Park Brown were joined by David Farquhar, CEO of Intelligent Growth Solutions, for the final session within their COP26 Leadership Series. As the founder and CEO of IGS, David provided thought provoking insight into the capabilities of agritech, specifically within the vertical farming space. IGS is a multi-award winning, international agritech innovator blending engineering, crop science and agronomy skills to build the best technology for their customers.

David generously detailed IGS’ growth journey, from inception in 2013 through significant growth to its status today. By producing vertical farming technology, the success of IGS is driven by enabling customers to grow tasty, nutritious and additive free produce for consumers, using economically viable and environmentally sustainable methods. Vertical farming is the process of growing crops indoors in stacked layers, under controlled environmental conditions. This requires IGS to create an artificial environment, tailoring each essential element (sun, wind and rain) to the specific needs of an individual crop.

This farming process boasts many environmental benefits over traditional agriculture. With climate change and increasing urbanisation, less arable land is available to farm traditionally on a global scale. The ability to grow indoors in urban areas can free up arable land and city spaces to be used more efficiently, for example by utilising vacant warehouses or buildings. David Attenborough has cited vertical farming methods as the best way to radically reduce the area used to farm and to make space for returning wilderness. Additionally, significant reductions can be made to the distance food travels to consumers with food being grown and sold locally. This has the capacity to reduce emissions from transportation of produce, and loss incurred by produce damaged in transit. As well as this, the closed-loop irrigation system utilised by vertical farming is biosecure, reutilising up to 97% of water inputted and subsequently negating the risk of surface runoff or nitrates in the water system.

As well as the clear environmental benefits, data analysis is allowing a shift in the agriculture sector by delivering traceability. With the ability to accurately estimate crop output, farmers have the capacity to work with supermarkets on a subscription basis over a number of years. This ensures stability for producers and consumers alike. Additionally, vertical farms have the capacity to flex with the grid, being powered in a predictable and cost efficient manner. Vertical farms should not be seen as an enemy of the traditional agriculture sector, they are here to compliment the system which already exists. Moving towards environmentally friendly practice in agriculture will be beneficial to us all.

For more information on our COP26 Leadership Series, please view the full brochure: COP26 Leadership Series Brochure

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