Worcestershire’s burgeoning vertical farming industry received a boost with an event at Pershore College.

A two-day masterclass exploring all aspects of this 20 businesses, academics and individuals. Those who attended got to hear talks and presentations from leading industry experts in the fields of hydroponics, aquaculture and water filtration. 

It also included a talk and tour of the college’s vertical farming educational facilities by Professor Roy Kennedy who leads the Agri-Tech Research Centre.

The event was the first in a series of free specialist business support initiatives organised by GrowAgri Worcestershire, a £2 million economic development project delivered by the college in partnership the European Regional Development Fund. 

Launched in November 2019, the programme is tasked with supporting the development of the county’s agritech sector and participation is open to eligible small to medium-sized Worcestershire businesses.

Nigel Haines, owner of Wise Water Solutions, a specialist supplier of irrigation equipment and associated products based in Broomhall, said: “I found the two-day event thought provoking, allowing insight into other companies’ issues and problem-solving regarding their waste streams and how they deal with them."

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Vertical farming technologies have experienced a recent revival as the world faces issues surrounding an ever-growing population and climate change, resulting in an increased focus on producing food sustainably. 

Growing crops vertically uses a smaller area of land, and soilless techniques such as hydroponics and aquaponics promises more nutrition, higher levels of productivity and is more sustainable through lower water usage. 

GrowAgri Project Manager, Mark Harwood-Browne said: “The team is delighted that our first specialist agri-tech event generated so much interest from a wide variety of businesses and individuals from Worcestershire and beyond. 

“Those who attended told us it was really beneficial and has increased their knowledge and understanding of vertical farming and its huge potential. They were particularly interested to see vertical farming in action in our fully enclosed hydroponic chamber and outdoor system. It was great to see so many businesses in the room working together to transform our food system through innovation.” 

The next GrowAgri expert seminar will be on the use of drone technology within horticultural and agricultural settings, on February 26-27. It is open to any eligible Worcestershire-based businesses that operate with a commercial drone licence. 

For more information go to wcg.ac.uk/growagri or call Mark Harwood-Browne on 0300 135 7179.