Monday, October 19, 2009

Vertical Zoo-topia

Valcent Products Inc., a subsidiary of, and fully-owned by, Valcent Products EU Limited, has developed and installed VertiCrop (top), a "vertical growth system," at the UK's Paignton Zoo Environmental Park in Devon. Even though this Vancouver, B.C.-based company won't be feeding its local population or even feeding humans at all, this is further proof that verticality in hydroponics is catching-on. The "vertical growth system" is a step in the right direction, both in thinking and in doing, towards the goal of sustainable food production that a Vertical Farm will achieve. This Horticulture Week article explains:
A zoo may sound like the last place you would expect to find cutting-edge horticulture. But [the zoo] is pioneering what it describes as a "revolutionary" system to maximise crop yields in a tight space, which could open the door to large-scale "high-rise" growing worldwide.

"We have the first commercially viable vertical growing facility," says Tom Bentley, business development manager at Valcent, developer of the VertiCrop system.
For fairness, we also want to draw attention to HydroStacker (bottom), a "vertical hydroponic growing system" developed in Florida that is a similar product to VertiCrop and should not be overlooked. In fact, Valcent's claim is false: HydroTaste, a Florida hydroponic farm whose owner, Chester Bullock, also owns the patent on the HydroStacker, has been a "commercialy viable vertical growing facility" for much longer than has the VertiCrop system at Paignton Zoo; I guess one lesson today is: don't believe everything you read.

In any case, the VertiCrop system's recent installation is sure to prove influential in the ongoing push from many for alternative ways to grow dinner (for you and your zoo animals.)

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