AeroFarms Shows Hardy Growth With Strategic Partnerships

Indoor vertical farm expands operations and embarks on new crop research
Lynn Petrak
Senior Editor
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AeroFarms Shows Hardy Growth With Strategic Partnerships
Among other new initiatives, AeroFarms is working with Nokia Bell Labs on high-tech monitoring of plants at its indoor vertical farms.

It’s a bumper-crop kind of month for AeroFarms. The indoor vertical farming operation announced new partnerships and initiatives that will help the company continue on its path of rapid growth.

Among those partnerships is a new collaboration with Washington D.C.-based World Wildlife Fund (WWF). AeroFarms, in a project with WWF and the St. Louis Controlled Agriculture Coalition, is expanding into the St. Louis area with a 150,000-square-foot indoor vertical farm. The site will feature AeroFarms’ latest growing technologies to generate yields up to 390 times greater productivity per square foot annually compared to traditional field farming, using 95% less water and zero pesticides.

“Farm development in the Midwest is part of our business model based on our proven success in the Northeast, and as a Certified B Corporation, we are equally excited to be able to create a more sustainable food system in the St. Louis area that has incredibly deep roots in agriculture and is home to an amazing ag tech community as well,” said David Rosenberg, co-founder and CEO of AeroFarms.

AeroFarms is also teaming up with Minnetonka, Minn.-based Cargill, entering a multi-year research agreement designed to improve cocoa bean yields and create more climate-resilient farming practices. Through this partnership, AeroFarms and Cargill will work together to innovate indoor growing technologies including aeroponics and hydroponics, light, carbon dioxide, irrigation, nutrition, plant space and pruning to identify the optimal conditions for cocoa tree growth. Initial research has begun at the AeroFarms headquarters in Newark, N.J., and will continue in 2022 at the company’s soon-to-open AgX research and development indoor vertical farm in Abu Dhabi, UAE.

“Environmental challenges and growing demand for cocoa products are placing increased pressure on the global cocoa supply chain,” explained Niels Boetje, managing director Cargill Cocoa Europe. “Through partnerships with research institutes, universities and innovative companies like AeroFarms, we are collaborating across sectors in bold experiments to bring greater productivity and resiliency to traditional cocoa farming operations. We look forward to sharing our findings with the farmer cooperatives in our cocoa supply chain to help ensure a thriving cocoa sector for generations to come.”

In another new strategic collaboration, AeroFarms is working with Nokia Bell Labs on technologies that merge agriculture, artificial intelligence/machine learning, computer vision, wireless networking and drone orchestration. The technologies enable a continuous monitoring solution that can track the growth of millions of plants.

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