HARPER ADAMS University has teamed up with horticulture lighting firm Vertically Urban, to explore vertical farming technology.

As part of a project funded by Defra, the Shropshire-based institution is providing modern facilities for commercial and academic crop growing trials in its Jean Jackson Glass House and research area. Built in 2016, the glasshouse is made from polycarbonate rather than glass, which allows for better thermal dynamics, making it more energy efficient. The height of the structure results in better heat dissipation.

At its conception, the university trialled various LED lighting systems to determine how plants grow differently under different lighting conditions. Since then, a retrofit glasshouse compartment has been added to the facility to house several final-year research projects and a commercial project.

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Its most recent development has been a new project funded by Defra, which will pair different cultivars of lettuce with various conditions. The aim is to look at the path from seedling to plant and the effects of varying lighting. This builds on previous research into light recipes in rooting young plants and looking at if they can produce plants with different light.

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UK-based Vertically Urban was personally recommended to the university for the bespoke LED grow light solution. Its CEO, Andrew Littler, said: "Vertical farming is key for the next generation of growers; it is excellent to see such a progressive approach from one of the UK's top educational establishments. We worked closely with the research team, who provided a wish list for a bespoke product, and we were happy to assist."