A Scottish vertical farming pioneer has said its ground-breaking growth towers can help tackle UK supermarket shortages.

Intelligent Growth Solutions said its towers “can help fix a food supply chain that is near to breaking point” because of the impacts of climate change, Brexit, and Russia’s war on Ukraine.

It said around 60 commercial-scale vertical farms could make the UK self-sufficient in the leafy greens currently missing from shop shelves.

The Edinburgh-based firm offers indoor vertical farming infrastructure, which is a home-grown technology that allows farmers to efficiently produce more than 200 different varieties of crops indoors.

More than 100 towers can be built on the same site, each offering between eight and 12 times the growing capacity of their footprint.

The Herald: Vertical farming technology can 'ensure a steady supply of high demand items, such as salad, herbs, chillies, kale or broccoli grown locally'Vertical farming technology can 'ensure a steady supply of high demand items, such as salad, herbs, chillies, kale or broccoli grown locally' (Image: IGS)

Andrew Lloyd, chief operations officer at IGS, said: “It’s becoming clear that our food supply chain is broken, and the UK has hit a breaking point.

"Leaning into new technology and integrating vertical farming into current food production systems will make the UK more resilient to import variations, staffing problems, disease and climate or weather events.

“Not only can our technology address today’s pressing needs, but it enables our farmers to complement their business and diversify into other crops year-round.”

Professor Derek Stewart, director of the Advanced Plant Growth Centre at The James Hutton Institute, said: “The UK has an overall £6 billion deficit for fruit and vegetables, which includes £1.7 billion for protected salad crops.

“This could be reversed almost completely with the adoption of vertical farming which has the added bonus of being able to extend shelf-life, enhance nutritional density and the taste of crops, all whilst reducing waste."

Mira Merme, of Suffolk sustainable food producer OneFarm that uses vertical farming technology, said: “The accelerated growth times and consistently high-quality produce means that smart vertical farming growth towers can become a serious part of UK food production.

“Vertical farming technology in the right hands can readily work in tandem with traditional farming techniques to bolster output, introduce new crops and ensure a steady supply of high demand items, such as salad, herbs, chillies, kale or broccoli grown locally and available to the end consumer at affordable prices.”

Mr Lloyd also said: “With retailers in the UK more inclined to buy fruit and veg on a longer-term model, and with the real impact of post-Brexit border rules for imports not known until January 2024, more needs to be done to future-proof our food production, and fast.

“On top of this, so-called once-in-a-generation weather events are becoming more common, these problems are no longer outliers. If we want future food security, we need to start taking action.”

First of its kind centre honouring 'feminist titan' to be launched in Glasgow

A new law centre which aims to increase conviction rates for sex crimes is to be launched by a Scots university in honour of a 'titan of the feminist movement'.

The University of Glasgow has been given funding to establish a first-of-its-kind service that will provide free independent legal advice and representation by practising Scots solicitors.

Film festival to return

The Edinburgh International Film Festival is to return this summer in a scaled-down version, months after the event ceased trading amid rising costs.

The 76th edition of the festival will take place from August 18 to 23 in a special one-year iteration as part of the Edinburgh International Festival.

Scottish charity offering chance on round-the-world race hires communications agency

A charity aiming to help young people suffering from mental health issues to transform their lives and have a chance of crewing on the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race has appointed Media House International to handle its communications.

The Our Isles and Oceans charity was set up by entrepreneurs Anthony Stodart and David Stewart Howitt to “offer a lifeline for young people suffering from mental health issues or adversity, enabling them to fulfil their potential, whatever their background or circumstances”, Media House noted.

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