July 24, 2024

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Vertical Farm Emirates Bustanica: A computer-controlled salad and herb oasis from Emirates

Vertical Farm Emirates Bustanica: A computer-controlled salad and herb oasis from Emirates

The world’s largest vertical farm is located in Dubai. It produces salads, vegetables and herbs with little water, space and energy requirements. A visit to Bustanika, which grows vegetables for Emirates and other airlines in the middle of Dubai.

The desert is alive. Lots of concrete, glass, steel, even more manpower – and, above all, lots of water. Each person in Dubai consumes about 550 liters per day. This makes the emirate one of the countries with the highest per capita water consumption in the world.

“We also need water,” says Feraz Soufi. But looking at how much water your company is saving is critical. “To produce one kilogram of lettuce using the traditional method, about 317 liters of water is required,” says Emirates General Director Bustanika. “We only use 15 to 17 litres.”

Day and night are automatically controlled

Soufi is the chairman of Emirates Bustanica, the world’s largest vertical farm. The factory is next to Al Maktoum International or Dubai World Central Airport. Lettuce alone is grown on 10,000 square meters and multiple sites, but so are cabbage, spinach, edible flowers and herbs. “We have also produced strawberries,” said Soufi in an interview with Aerotelegraph. Among other things, the products are offered on Emirates flights.

Vertical farms are a type of industrial agriculture. The produce is grown industrially without soil on shelves on multiple floors. Computers control everything from irrigation to nutrient additions and lighting. The basis for this comes from years of scientific research that has determined which sizes are appropriate for growth and quality. “We control day and night automatically and based on scientific findings,” explains Soufi.

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Less water, less energy, less space

This has various advantages. Not only does it require less water, it also requires less electricity. In Dubai, the water used to irrigate plants comes exclusively from desalination plants, which use a lot of electricity. Vertical farming also requires significantly less space. “We will grow 470,000 square meters of fields here on an area of ​​10,000 square meters,” says Soufi.

Salads in Emirates Bustanica: Sustainable Development. Image: aeroTELEGRAPH

Another key, says the manager. “Our products are ready to eat. You don’t have to wash and clean them,” he says. This saves more water and reduces food waste. In addition, the salads, vegetables and herbs do not contain any chemicals, herbicides or pesticides.

Faster growth, higher harvest

Soufi dispels one prejudice: “Our salads and cabbage are delicious from traditional farming.” Nutrients are responsible for the taste and in Emirates Bustanica they are added with absolute precision as per exact specifications. This means that there are no differences between individual plants.

But vertical farms also have economic benefits. Crops grow significantly faster than traditional agriculture. “You can harvest three times in two months,” says Soufi. The first time four weeks after sowing, six and eight weeks later. However, personnel costs are relatively high.

“We continue to excel”

With nearly 100 employees, Emirates Bustanica produces three tons of greens every day. From February 2022, the company-owned Emirates Flight Catering will take half of that. The rest goes to big distributors or hotels in Dubai.

Soufi is confident that Emirates Bustanica can expand production. “We’re constantly becoming more efficient,” he says. Perhaps that is why in the future spinach, cabbage or herbs will be exported from Dubai to the entire Middle East, Europe or even America.

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In the gallery above you can see pictures of the production at Emirates Bustanica. Click on the photo to open the gallery in larger format.