IoT Podcast Logo

In episode 42, Jamie Burrows – CEO, Vertical Future joins us for the first Agritech Special with host Jack Calow ! 🌱 🌿 πŸͺ΄ Tune in and find out how AgTech is using IoT to support a better future for food.

Sit back, relax, tune in and be the first to discover

  • How can IoT technology be leveraged to innovate farming and support a better future for food and the environment etc.? 02:56 – 05:00 🌱
  • How is the use of lighting being innovated in vertical farming? 05:00 – 09:27 🌱
  • What other challenges does vertical farming and AgTech technology address for sustainability, communities, and the economy, particularly food-inequalities? 09:27 – 15:11 🌱
  • Are there any barriers when it comes to vertical farming? 15:11 – 17:37 🌱
  • Where do you see government backing going in the future for vertical farms? 17:37 – 21:16 🌱
  • What have you seen in terms of yield output and energy usage? What tech innovations need to be focused on to improve this even more? 21:16 – 26:03 🌱
  • Where do you see AI and Machine Learning being adopted into VF in the future? 26:03 – 31:04 🌱
  • Automation and robotics are growing in this sector as well. Do you see this as the future? Or do you think people should always be involved in the VF processes? 31:04 – 34:30 🌱

Follow Jamie on LinkedIn

To find out more about Vertical Future click hereΒ 

MORE ABOUT THE GUESTS

Jamie Burrows is the Founder & CEO at Vertical Future, a London-based vertical farming technology company, leading the way to sustainable growing of produce through data and IoT technology.

Episode Transcript

Jack Calow
Welcome to The IoT Podcast. My name is Jack Calow. You may be wondering why Tom isn’t with us here today. Not to worry, he will be back. It’s just that today is an Agritech Special.

Jack Calow
I am delighted to welcome a really exciting guest. He is one of the most recent pioneers in the UK vertical farming scene. Please welcome Jamie Burrows, CEO of vertical future. Welcome, Jamie.

Jamie Burrows
Good afternoon. Thank you for having me.

What is Vertical Farming?

Jack Calow
A pleasure to have you, Jamie. So I guess to kick things off, it’d be good for all of our viewers out there who don’t know what vertical farming is for you to just sort of explain exactly what it is and maybe a bit about how you got into it, and why you’re so passionate about it as well?

Jamie Burrows
Sure. So vertical farming is essentially the growing of plants in stacks layers on a vertical wall. And vertical farming is a very broad definition.

Jamie Burrows
So I guess in our context, it’s probably helpful to say that we, we work in a sector controlled environment agriculture, which is a sub-sector of border vertical farming, it’s much more controlled, as the name says. And it’s effectively an environment where we protect plants from many other aspects that would otherwise have to deal with if they were growing outside.

Jamie Burrows
So indoors, we use LED lighting to buy different types of wavelengths to plant levels of intensity for different duration, or two periods. We obviously can play around with nutrients. vertical farming, because because of the stacks layers, allows us to grow a lot more produce in any volume of space. So from a land-use perspective, it’s, it’s very, very interesting as well. And obviously, because we’re growing indoors, we don’t have to worry as much about pests. So we don’t have to use chemicals, you end up with a much better product at the end of the day.

Jamie Burrows
So there are many, many benefits of vertical farming. I got interested in it because, well, my angle is health. So I came from a health, healthcare and Life Sciences background, I worked for about 10 years, first in economic regeneration, and then some consulting companies like EY and Deloitte time at the Department of Health, very interested in the way that technology and bring about positive change in terms of health and social impact. And that’s all very much linked to the environmental problem.

How is IoT being used in Vertical Farming?

Jack Calow
Right, yeah. Fantastic. Thanks so much for that overview. And I guess so as a really good starting point for us both as this is The IoT Podcast, I was excited to ask you kind of how you think IoT, IoT technology can kind of be leveraged to not only innovate farming, but also sort of support and better the future of food and affecting things like time to harvest, and disease and nutrient levels and environment, etc?

Jamie Burrows
Well, IoT is effectively a network of things that are connected, as I’m sure your viewers know, our vertical farms are highly dependent on IoT. So because we build systems that are highly automated, and require very little human labour, it means that we have a very heavy reliance on machines and sensors, data and software to tell us if something’s wrong.

Jamie Burrows
So one basic example would be using fluorescent imaging to see a product that may be in the middle of one of our farms, 20 layers high, six columns along the humans never going to go up and touch up periodic maintenance every few months. And be the sensor will then tell our systems, our software, Diana, if there’s something wrong, and then we’ll be able to actually pull that plant back through the system. That’s one example.

Jamie Burrows
Another example would be using very basic environmental sensors and other aspects to see what’s going on throughout the environment. If there are any variations, things that we need to change. Another one might be using lighting that was pretty referred to the fact that we are highly dependent on LED lighting and for different products, like different types of light through at different stages of growth. So by controlling that, and using our software and lots of different gadgets throughout our farms, we’re able to play with that. So yeah, very, very important for pretty much everything that we do.

How is lighting expanding in Vertical Farming?

Jack Calow
Absolutely. Does it certainly seem to be heavily involved in the future of this industry? It’s interesting. Some of my friends, who are also involved in this industry have been talking to me recently about how they’ve been expanding on the you mentioned lighting, of wavelengths and things like that. A lot of them have been mentioning how they’re expanding on this and sort of going moving away from your traditional red light split of lighting. And now even looking beyond the spectrum going into green, and yellow and things like this. So I was interested to hear your thoughts on that. And if that’s something the vertical future adapting, and if it is obviously, helping that sensor to adapt, depending on the plant?

Jamie Burrows
Sure, so we have our own lighting solution, which obviously, we work with a manufacturer here in the UK two, together, it has five different types of LED lights on it, and they range from red all the way through to UV. And we believe that every single plant needs something different. So having a, I guess, the days where and still not a lot of vertical farms do this, and not necessarily thing wrong with it. But we don’t feel that you can fully optimise your growing process unless you’re able to effectively vary the lighting type and intensity for each particular crop.

Jamie Burrows
So when we actually started out in 2016, we were using off the shelf lights, which effectively the room ends up looking pink because it’s about 70% red, that scent blue, red and blue are the two main light types that you know plants respond to. But other you know, quite by using effectively a solution like that, we were always quite limited.

Jamie Burrows
So, for example, it was very difficult to get some of our crops to flower for when it’s grown more flowers, or if we wanted to grow fruits, it was very difficult to grow those. So moving forward, I think the industry is becoming more and more savvy and understanding that we do need to be a lot more science and plant science LED, and have better lighting solutions that we can we can apply.

Jamie Burrows
So the way that our systems work, you know, we can have a system, which is in the Caribbean, one in the middle east one in the UK, we’re tracking all of that data centrally. And we can tell not only you know, what’s going on within the environment, but what type of lighting is being applied by what stage, what crops are being grown. And we can compare all that data and figure out you know, what the best recipe really is for any given crop.

Jack Calow
Yeah, amazing. And, actually, it’s interesting, because I’d never thought of this before visit being a sort of controlled environment, like you said, CEA is what this is all about. And it’s actually something that I heard at the CEA 4.0 event, which has been held last week. And I know that Vertical Future were represented there. I heard people talking about the introduction of bees because you started talking about the flowering, which obviously is quite important, and how they’re going to sort of try to bring bees into the equation. And that’s something I’ve never really considered before it being a controlled environment. I didn’t know how you bring bees in it. But obviously, that’s such an important factor to keep pollinators. And so is that something that you see as being a successful adaptation into vertical farming?

Jamie BurrowsΒ 
Yeah, I think I think these have been used in vertical farms for quite a long time really. So I think, I mean, not it’s not widespread, but there are certainly some vertical farms globally, especially in Asia that have been doing it. And it’s people who grow fruits, it’s some it’s very important, obviously, if you’re around and pollinate by hand. So yeah, I believe you can have a very controlled environment. And, and at the same time, you know, introduce bees and other breeders, you don’t really have many other alternatives when it comes to pollinating and, you know, if you can’t pollinate, you’re really in trouble. And the problem with bees are obviously they can die, and then they can end up in random places around the run the farm. Another one is actually LED lighting can sometimes mess with bees a little bit, and they can get a bit lost and go a bit crazy. Also repaired there’s no data to support that this is just some industry insights. But yeah, we’ve suddenly started to use them and, and feel like that’s the best approach.

What challenges does Vertical Farming address for sustainability, the economy and food inequalities?

Jack Calow
Yeah, yeah. Okay, I guess it presents its own new problems that are going to be interesting to sort of find the solutions for but yeah, definitely, as you said, I need to be involved in the process. Okay, so I guess another good question would be to say, what are the challenges to vertical farming and architect more generally? What other challenges do they address in terms of things like sustainability and communities, the economy in particular, particularly food inequalities?

Jamie Burrows
So most people when they think of vertical farming, they think of food for human consumption. So I guess that’s what I’ll focus on first. So one of the really talked about you know, some of the key-value drivers or value propositions for vertical farming things like pressures, because you’re located much closer to a customer, land use non-use of pesticides, ie growing a healthier product is better for human consumption, the kind of main ones.

Jamie Burrows
But I think some of the unless talked about ones that things like encouraging improvements in biodiversity. So obviously, you know, biodiversity is on the decline, insect populations are dying out soils facing degradation. So by actually controlling farming, not for everything, but for particular products, and using less land, one potential argument, we could say that we’re then reducing pressure on otherwise, you know, very scarce farmland. And under the assumption that you know, something good has been done without land. You know, one could argue that vertical farming is definitely one way forward. I mean, as an example, our systems, we can grow the same as a traditional farm, but in about 3% of the space, depending on the height of the farm. So you know, moving forward, if you look at what’s happened in our natural world, since the, you know, the 50s, the 60s has been a gradual decline in the amount of available land and a massive increase in the amount of land use for intensive farming.

Jack Calow
Yeah, I mean, I think I saw a staggering statistic recently about sort of, in the 50s, it was a really small percentage of people were living in cities, and it was a large amount in rural areas. But still, there was a lot of land out there that was being cultivated for agriculture. And now Yeah, as the cities have expanded, of course, that’s just shrunk and shrunk. And a lot of land grabbing going on as well being used for other things. Yeah, absolutely.

Jamie Burrows
I think just to add to that, you know, the fruits and vegetables, a lot of fruits and vegetables are not actually one of the main causes of that a lot of it started things like palm oil. You know, that there are lots of other bigger causes, but I think every industry or part of the industry should really do their part. And then, I guess the second response to your last question, as well as the ability for a controlled environment, agriculture to also provide solutions for other industries, like the perfume industry, like Cosmetics, Nutraceuticals, Phytopharmaceuticals, all of these industries are also heavily dependent on outdoor agriculture. So it’s not just about food for human consumption.

Jack Calow
Yeah, there’s a lot more to consider than just food for human beings. Absolutely. And what would you say again, as well, about sort of, because this is a huge factor I know. And I heard a crazy story recently, and it’s something that we all take for granted. A guy, you know, went to the supermarket bought a packet of three onions, about 79 P, and they come all the way from New Zealand. And he’s here in the UK with us. So it’s just staggering to think that three onions have travelled all that way as far as they really could travel. So obviously, for you, I’m guessing food mileage reduction is obviously another massive factor that vertical farming is going to help with?

Jamie Burrows
Yes, yeah, I think it’s, you know, it’s not a surprise that these kinds of things happen, you know, three onions coming across the world. I mean, it’s globalisation as capitalism, it’s free-market economics. So, yes, you know we’ve done a lot of analysis and it’s a very, very clear argument, in terms of, you know, reduce food miles, having fewer vehicles on the road as well. Rubber as well, rubber from vehicles is actually quite a big pollutant. So, yeah, that’s, that’s a very clear value proposition has been for quite a long time for vertical farms, you know, the last decade.

Jack Calow
Because I mean, we can even be turning the office block that I’ve sat in right now, we could even be turning this into its own vertical farm. Right, we could then be selling that onto our local supermarket.

Jamie Burrows
Yeah, I think if you if you’re talking about vertical farms for in terms of production for retail, you know, like the way that it works, you would typically need quite a big farm in order to be able to compete with the unit economics of quote, cheap foreign imports. You know, for example, most of our herbs now are coming in from Kenya, places like that. So you usually need a much bigger facility. So like, I guess, unless you live in a very, very big office or work in a very big office. And converting that kind of space might be more akin to a local model, where maybe you service some restaurants and there’s definitely a lot of vertical farms being set up with that kind of model. That’s how we, we actually started with our minicamps brand in London, you know, 150 square metre farm that service about 100 restaurants in central London.

Jack Calow
Well, I didn’t know that was how it kind of first originated supplying as local restaurants but that’s just fantastic, isn’t it? And that’s what a lot of consumers are really looking for now, and they’re looking for local produce fresh Farm to Fork kind of thing. So, yeah, absolutely, this is you know, gonna be helping so so much isn’t it? So what In your opinion, and what sort of barriers are there in the way when it comes to vertical farming and the development of the industry?

Jamie Burrows
Well if we split it into two areas, there are growers, slash brands. So a lot of the companies we hear about in the US, for example, you know, the aerofarms, boundaries, plenties. That’s one side of the sector. And then the other side of the sector, companies like us that obviously provide the technology, I would say on the grower brand side, there are fewer barriers to entry in terms of setting up a small vertical farm.

Jamie Burrows
Obviously, any company that wants to set up obviously requires it you know, capital, not only for the setting up the farm itself but also in terms of, you know, running the business and going out and giving yourself time to find customers. So, you know, that’s one challenge.

Jamie Burrows
Another challenge is plant science expertise and understanding how to grow products, I think there’s probably going to be more regulation in this sector moving forward, and governments may step in and intervene as they are in the Middle East. And so standards are going to be much higher, what we don’t want is 1000s of small scale vertical farms being set up, and then, you know, there being some kind of disease outbreak or somebody’s getting killed because they’re not following appropriate food, growing standards, you know, it can be quite complicated. So that’s another one.

Jamie Burrows
And then yeah, I think, you know, there will be more and more competition moving forward. In the future, I think there’ll be a group of mega vertical farming companies and mega-farms being set up, you know, 10 to 50,000 square metre farms in Peri-urban or rural areas. But then, separate to that you’ll have a lot more of these kinds of local last-mile vertical farms, that set up whether a fewer barriers to entry, you know, you can maybe set up a farm 50 or 100k. That will compete as well. But at some point, the problem with the small vertical farming model is it will saturate much quicker because effectively, they’re going to be growing similar products, where the unit economics work within a small vertical farming system. And then you know, what happens to the market when it saturates? A lot of people, you know, would be in trouble, or maybe the public transport in some other way.

How far can Government backing drive Vertical Farming forwards?

Jack Calow
So, I guess this kind of ties into that a little bit in terms of barriers. And I guess, how do you see sort of government backing and commercial backing? I mean, where do you see that now? And where do you see that in the future? I mean, do you think it’s there enough at the moment?

Jamie Burrows
I think governments could do more and should do more. And I know that in the UK, they’re starting, you know, we’ve spoken to politicians, policymakers, and there is an interest in vertical farming, I think, no, it’s, it’s not where it should be in countries like Singapore, where they’re providing very healthy grants for businesses being set up and other leaders to encourage vertical farming and other activities in CEA. But yeah, I think I think the UK in the future will do a little bit more.

Jamie Burrows
But I mean, look, we’ve just been through what we’re still going through COVID, and people are cash strapped, grant funding has decreased. So I think it’s more likely that there’ll be more of a push from the private sector in future years. In terms of investors, investors typically are not going to touch very small scale projects, at least in our experience investors are looking for it again, it depends on the investor, you might find an angel investor that might be interested in putting 10k or 100k into a vertical farming startup, but ones that we used to get the venture capitalists are looking to deploy a minimum of, you know, five, or 10 or 15 million. And in order to do that they need to obviously remove completely removed but significantly reduce risk. And the thing that you have to do in the sector in order to do that, for them would be something like an off-taker agreement with a supermarket. supermarkets are not going to provide lengthy or even any off-taker agreements, unless they see a fall quite often. So it’s a bit of a chicken and egg situation.

Jamie Burrows
So it’s it is a bit of a challenging time because there haven’t really been any exits in the CA sector for investors to be able to value the sector and determine you know, what’s an appropriate exit multiple, so capital inflows will increase in the future but not for now.

Jack Calow
It’s just a case of the government can clearly see the benefits of it. They’re just obviously they’ve had a few other things on their minds recently haven’t it’s been a tough 24 months for everybody, but Let’s hope that it gets some backing soon because it’s definitely the future. Right? So we’re all excited for that. But I saw I mean, commercially wise, I mean, I can definitely see it kicking off because I saw recently obviously, you announced your, your partnership with HECK, the super sustainable vegetarian food brand. So that’s really exciting.

Jamie Burrows
Yeah, that’s an excellent partnership. Really, really nice family business, obviously, from the north of England from Yorkshire. They, they’ve got some great growth ambitions. In the press today, they announced that they want to produce a million fosters a day by 2025. See our vertical farm or our business plays a very small role in that, I think are we delivered our first vertical farming system to them last week, the focus of our partnership initially is going to be on research and development, you know, having something on site that actually will support them to look at different nutritional characteristics, different products, different flavours. And obviously, all of those are very, very critical in terms of their customer base. And then, you know, we’ll build up a partnership and see where it goes. But they’re definitely a great and British company to be working with.

How can yield input and output be improved through technology?

Jack Calow
Yeah, absolutely. I thought that was a really strategic move from you guys in partnering itself in such sustainable and healthy boundaries is exactly what you’re you’re about services definitely a very strategic move. And so, I mean, this is the biggest thing, I think, for everybody involved this the traditional farmers who are sort of reluctant to get involved the government’s, everybody is the output the yield output. So what I mean, what have you seen in terms of yield output and energy use? And sort of what tech innovations Do you think needs to be focused on to improve the yield output even more?

Jamie Burrows
I think in our experience, yield slash output is actually not concerned at all, I think, to get to give you one example, spinach, spinach is a very difficult crop to grow outdoors and indoors, it’s very susceptible to disease, we had a innovate, UK funded project. If you look at spinning fields, outdoors, they can be, you know, three, three to five kilos per square metre around them. Tiny indoors, we’ve, you know, we’ve ended up with much better crop yields of between, I think, 30, or 35, and 60 kilos per square metre per hour. So you know, 10 to 20, roughly 10 to 20 times higher, but also much better produce. Limited need to obviously wash.

Jamie Burrows
So yeah, I think you know, that, I would say that that’s the case, in most products, we grow, you know, yield and not problems at all, I think the big talking point, at least in our experience, is obviously the amount of energy that we need to use to obviously produce said crops in such a way, setting up a vertical farm in an area where you can tap into sustainable sources of energy, ie, you know, from, from large scale wind farms, or from solar, if you’re in a hotter geography.

Jamie Burrows
Or it could be things like nuclear, if you’re in France. So France, I think 70%, nuclear makes the argument much, much better. But if you’re just, you know, buying power off the grid, then the energy required per kilo, compared to outdoor farming is obviously significantly higher, in our experience is actually lower than what you would see in a greenhouse. So people think that greenhouse farming is you don’t use a lot of energy actually do because you’re having to heat all the environments to stabilise it. And quite often the use of supplementary biting, you don’t have the benefit as well as a bit grease in terms of land use. But I think that’s definitely the biggest talking point, at least we see with investors and potential buyers. But you know, we’ve done a lot of lifecycle analyses. And obviously, we have a lot of data from five years of growing now. And we’re quite comfortable with the arguments.

Jack Calow
Yeah, I think that’s it. And that was something I again, I picked up a lot of the CEA 4.0. And last week, it was, in every case, every case study, I saw the yield out, the output was higher. And that was the key, the key factor for everyone involved. That means some things we’re using more energy, though a lot of the time, there’s a lot less water, we use a lot less sort of general energy being consumed. But then if you sort of took everything in total, as in the heating, lighting, ah, back a lot of times was proving to be quite a drain on the energy use as well. But I think it’s less about that more about course, the output is higher, but it’s the clinical-ness of it. I mean, you don’t have to be waiting for seasons. You don’t have to be waiting for humans to do these things. It can be so much more precise. As soon as one crop is done, you get on to the next one. And it’s so efficient, right?

Jamie Burrows
Yeah, well I’m sold on all those. But I’m obviously very biased. But yeah, I think you know, the ability to effectively have a conditions where it’s the 26th of July 2728 degrees year-round at 65%. Humidity obviously means that we’re going to have much better yields and crops outputs, your point on the water as well as is correct. Depending on the type of system you’re using hydroponic. Generally, if you’re circulating your water, use a lot less than outdoors.

Jamie Burrows
Our systems are also aeroponics, you can flick between the two, which uses even less water. So um, so yeah, you know, our argument is that Yeah, in the short term, even no models perfect, we’re probably gonna use a bit more energy to produce every kilogramme of product. But there are many, many other factors that need to be considered, you know, positive externalities, around health, around jobs around water. And that also needs to be taken into consideration. And we just need to move away from the negativity it’s just about carbon. But as I said, we’re also dealing with that.

How far has AI and Machine Learning been used in Vertical Farming?

Jack Calow
Exactly, you touched on something there needs, I mean health is going to be a huge, huge factor. We’ve both touched on it already. I mean, consumers, it’s going away, health and well being even now more so than ever is key to a lot of what people are buying, especially as I said, pandemic, now more than ever. Okay, so where I mean, again, this is something I’ve heard a lot recently, I think AI and machine learning. I’m interested to hear your thoughts on this because they both appear to be being adopted a heck of a lot into virtual farming at the moment. vertical farming serving as a virtual farming? Well, yeah, I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on where you think they’re going to be integrated a bit more.

Jamie Burrows
I mean, I’m probably going to be a bit controversial and say that I think most claims that are made around AI and machine learning are rubbish in the sector. Okay, yeah, I think we’ve got a pretty good handle on who’s doing what in terms of software. And obviously, we feel like we’ve got one of the best and most detailed, advanced software offerings in the market. And, and even, you know, AI and machine learning, first of all, you don’t need AI and machine learning for a lot of the processes, it’s not really required. And we’ve started to integrate it into some of the processes. But in terms of developing complex algorithms, this requires a lot of work, a lot of investment. And also, as I said, you know, it’s not required for everything.

Jamie Burrows
So I think the average vertical farm that has software, and again, not speaking for everyone, because I know that there are a lot of excellent vertical farm examples out there. But the average is based on our experience, or just basic collecting very basic environmental data, allowing users to switch on and off things on the farm. You know, this doesn’t really require AI machine learning and certainly doesn’t involve it. So I think they’re very, like I said, probably sound very controversial, but I think they use these terms that use very, very loosely. And you need a very experienced team to actually build proper AI and machine learning algorithms and processes.

Jack Calow
Yeah, no, I mean, that may be controversial in some, but I mean, I, from what you’ve just said, It sounds very logical to me, I mean, IoT is coming through a heck of a lot, I mean, sensors and the simple being able to switch something off at the right time. And notice in different plants, these kinds of things, obviously, that is very much needed. But yeah, I think from what you’ve just said, the very complex nature and algorithms involved in AI. It sounds like it’s a bit more than needed at the moment.

Jamie Burrows
So just on that point, I just say that you know, things like using machine vision or AI for things like strawberry picking, or other types of soft fruits is obviously something that’s very much needed. But if you’re taking an as we do in our systems, if you’re taking, you know, a bit of salad through our processes, you don’t really need AI or machine learning for that. It’s just a data point, you know, we use, we use sensors to or motion sensors to track the trace coming through, we use RFID tracking to determine what type of tray is and what type of product it is, which will then tell our automated machines, you need to cut at this length, this level of intensity, and then the product is going to go down the chute. If it’s an allergen, it’s going to go on one track. If it’s not an allergen, it’s going to go on another track. All of that stuff does not involve AI or machine learning. This is just data points and coding and programming. But as I said, some of the more sophisticated stuff when it comes to, for example, harvesting fruits does require stuff like that.

Jack Calow
Good point. A lot of people I know again are using data analytics a heck of a lot. But that’s a big jump between AI and I think I heard you mentioned this recently, actually. Something that was unique to the vertical feature, and that’s that your plants actually move. And this will lead us on to our next question quite nicely. But yeah, am I right? I heard you say that.

Jamie Burrows
Yes, yeah. And that allows us to make a lot of claims that we do around space utilisation. So in a kind of standard vertical farm, when, let’s say you’ve got your lights on for 16 hours, the remaining eight hours, what are you doing with that space? Usually nothing. When you buy a vertical farm, you run a vertical farm, you’re investing a lot of money in that asset. And you need to make as much money from the asset and misuse of that asset as you can over a given time period. So what we do is, focus a lot on using our software and our automation throughout our facility to move crops throughout, through a journey, effectively, to make the best use of space and optimise yield. So overall, using different photoperiods and so on. So yeah, it’s a very, very different approach to what we’re doing.

Will Robotics have a part to play in Vertical Farming?

Jack Calow
Yeah, certainly sounds very interesting. Again, I don’t think I’ve heard another business involved in this industry doing that. So that’s fantastic. And that that’s really neat. It’s nice to sort of my final question, actually, which is about automation, and robotics, because I know a heck of a lot of businesses that are in agritech, more generally, less. So maybe in vertical farming. I have heard of businesses that have gantries that sort of have their sensors moving on the top. So you can see that the robots then pack them and move them all and take them out of the facility. But certainly, in agritech, a lot of robotics coming into it as well, planting potatoes in Belgium various different things I’m hearing. But yeah, I mean, do you see this is the future? Or kind of do you think that human beings should always be involved in that process?

Jamie Burrows
I think it’s both. I think it depends on what you’re talking about on the farm. I think our systems are built to involve automation to reduce or eliminate bottlenecks, operational bottlenecks to what otherwise exist, we don’t believe in sending people in on ladders or scissor lifts. Why? Why would we need an oil form, we can actually put a, we can put another vertical farming system in there and make better use of the space. And also, you know, reduce the risk of cross-contamination or bringing pathogens into the environment by not obviously, involving humans.

Jamie Burrows
But you know, that being said, these are the basic processes. If we talk about monitoring the farm, I think you will probably also be monitoring the software that is monitoring the farm, I think you always need to have humans. So I believe it’s very, very important. But I think our hypothesis is that our thesis is that we should be upskilling people and getting them more involved in more intellectual activities, as opposed to know the very kind of labour-intensive tasks that be involved in most vertical problems. And then yeah, I think the other process where humans will probably continue to be involved is, is a packing stage. Very, and obviously, we have automated packing processes, which are very sophisticated.

Jamie Burrows
But in general, we found that you know, it’s great too, or it’s very important to have humans involved at that end process, or checking the quality of the end product that’s effectively going out. So it’s, of course, you know, there will always be the displacement of some jobs. But it doesn’t mean that we’re eliminating jobs completely. We’re just trying to upskill Yeah,

Jack Calow
I guess that’s been a lot of people’s unfortunate argument against robotics. And automation hasn’t been lots of jobs, but then it’s, they just need to open their minds up a little bit more, I think, I would say anyway, getting money to controversial, but the creation of jobs should outweigh the loss of jobs. So look, I mean, Jamie has been such a pleasure having you onboard. It’s been a really exciting episode for myself. I’m a big agrotech, especially as I love it, myself came from a background in, in kind of sustainable development, geography and geospatial kind of imaging. And yes, it’s such a pleasure to have you here. I was just sort of wondering where our visitors can kind of find yourself and find vertical future online before that you get?

Jamie Burrows
Yes, so. So it’s vertical future.co.uk. And, obviously, we’re on LinkedIn, Facebook, and all that. But yeah, most of our stuff is on our website and on LinkedIn.

Jack Calow
All right, fantastic. Again, an absolute pleasure to have you on Jamie. And I hope to see using YouTube. Thank you very much, jack. Thank you very much. Bye-bye. Right. That was fantastic. Great to have Jamie on board with us today. And you can find us at the IoT podcast on LinkedIn on Twitter. If you’d like to join in the conversation on agrotech and vertical farming, then please feel free to do so.

Jack Calow
And if you’d like to sign up to our newsletter then please check the link below and likes and comments are always appreciated. Thanks So much again for joining us on another great episode of the IoT podcast.

The IoT Podcast Team

The IoT Podcast is powered by Paratus People, a leading organisation in IoT Talent Solutions.

Innovation is at the heart of IoT, it is our passion to explore and learn more about this fast paced and transforming sector.

Connect & Get Involved

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.
Subscribe to our newsletter to be amongst the first to find out exclusive information about The IoT Podcast.

We use Sendinblue as our marketing platform. By Clicking below to submit this form, you acknowledge that the information you provided will be transferred to Sendinblue for processing in accordance with their href="https://www.sendinblue.com/legal/termsofuse/">terms of use