Does eating salad really contribute to a healthy lifestyle? Perhaps not when 5.6 billion pounds of pesticides are used worldwide to produce fresh greens. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), residues from those pesticides are linked to cancer and other serious health problems.
In an endeavor to ensure citizens’ health, the vertical farming company &ever is committed to sustainably growing pesticides-free green products.
Vertical Farms: Future of Agriculture
Formerly Farmers Cut, &ever is a Hamburg-based farming company that cultivates high-quality plants indoors while saving on natural resources. The farms have a vertical structure and are easily scalable in form and size, which allows them to be run in any climate conditions anywhere around the globe.
For &ever, it is all about the freshness and nutritional value of the food. According to Mark Korzilius, founder and chief strategy officer of &ever, green leaves can lose most of their nutritional value after being washed in chlorine, chilled, packed, stored in warehouses over periods of time, and then sent on the road for transportation.
To solve that problem, &ever provides fresh products by using the so-called “harvest on demand” or “farm to fork” model, which leaves the roots intact even when the produce reaches the customer.
Video by Angela Klose
Newly Opened Farm in Kuwait
The first commercial &ever farm is the newly opened vertical indoor farm in Kuwait City. The facility will soon produce fresh salad year-round in the middle of the Kuwaiti desert. The farm can grow up to 550 kilos of fresh greens and herbs a day and has faster growth cycles than traditional outdoor farms, which are dependent on the weather conditions.
&ever’s indoor farms are also fostering new cultivation technologies. “We have invented the system ‘dryponics,’ which is a unique method of growing salad indoors,” says &ever Co-CEO Dr. Henner Schwarz.
Even food labelled as organic can contain different pesticides. Kuwait-based &ever Project Engineer Rami Safareni says that their products are “better than organic,” because the company can produce more than 250 different types of plants using:
- 90 percent less water
- 60 percent less fertilizer
- Zero pesticides
Thanks to the controlled atmosphere in the farm, the fresh greens do not require washing and are harvested immediately before they are eaten, helping ensure high nutritional quality. To demonstrate the purity of the plants, Korzilius and his team taste directly from the growing trays.
“It is a common misperception that plants come from the field,” Korzilius explains, pointing out that today plants are mostly grown in greenhouses. Using these growing techniques, &ever is transforming metropolises like Kuwait City into farms and allowing citizens to taste green salad as if they had just harvested it from their own garden.
Farm to Fork
Kuwait’s unique fusion of local flavors and international dishes make it one of the most interesting food scenes worldwide. The first restaurant chain in Kuwait to benefit from the fresh green products will be the local Japanese restaurant Ora, owned by NOX Management.
Faisal AlMeshal, managing director at NOX, points out that for the first time the restaurants will be supplied locally: “We used to import all our greens mainly from Europe, but now we have a local solution that is tastier and fresher.”
Faisal adds that the local supply allows their business to save on logistics, minimize waste, and make a better choice for the planet.
The Technology Behind &ever
Advanced technology provides &ever’s vertical farms with fully digital control over the whole production process.
“Our production planning is based entirely on the Business Technology Platform from SAP, which allows us to optimize production according to the needs and capacities of the farm,” Dr. Jan-Gerd Frerichs, chief technology officer at &ever, sayd.
Internet of Things (IoT) sensors and edge computing devices collect data at several hundred data points throughout the farmhouse – monitoring seeding and germination, as well as crucial parameters such as carbon dioxide levels, temperature, humidity and airflow. To support the project with software implementation and development, &ever chose IBsolution, a trusted SAP partner.
“We have contributed to &ever’s goals by delivering innovative solutions on SAP Cloud Platform to make the farmhouses manageable with few people at maximum utilization,” says Loren Heilig, managing director at IBsolution. “It is great to see the first results of our partnership here in Kuwait.”
SAP Solutions Architect Daniel Degraf explains that the collected IoT data from the sensors is stored within the in-memory database SAP HANA and analyzed with the help of logistics and production applications on SAP Cloud Platform.
Building on the success of the Kuwait project, &ever is planning to open more sustainable farms in cities throughout Africa and Asia with unfavorable climate conditions. The agricultural company is striving for nutritional food for millions of people, zero waste, and minimizing ecological footprint.