Location: Singapore, Asia
Type of System: Vertical Geoponic
Production: 182.5 tons/year
Climate: Tropical Humid
Area: 7.96 acres
Growing Season: Year round
Crops: Xiao Bai Cai,Naibai,Cai Xin,Chinese Cabbage,Mao Bai,Lettuce,Bayam,Kai Lan,Kang Kong,Spinach
Sky Greens is world’s first low carbon, hydraulic driven vertical farm- Using green urban solutions to achieve production of safe, fresh and delicious vegetables, using minimal land, water, chemical and energy resources.
Background of Case Study:
Given the severely limited land available for farming in Singapore, the country has had to import over 90% of its food. To address this glaring food vulnerability there have been major efforts in Singapore’s government to find innovative ways to supply its population with food. ‘A Go-Gro’ has allowed for the year round production of fresh vegetables.
Type of System and Scale:
This modified version of the traditional geoponic farm maximizes land value and productivity and contributes to the local food economy. The vegetables are harvested every day and delivered almost immediately to retail outlets and consumers. They supply the NTUC Fair Price grocery chain with high quality local vegetables exclusively.
2009 : Brain child of Jack Ng, who came up with this idea during the international financial crisis
2009-2010 : He spent two years developing an agricultural model and a prototype was designed based on a research agreement between Sky Greens and the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore.
2011 : The project was publicized
2012 : The project was launched commercially
Ongoing :Researching into possibilities in a hydroponic system and expanding their crop type to tubers
The System Description
System Description and Dimensions:
The system is composed of a series of vertical A-frames that stand 3, 6 and 9 meters high, about which 22-26 tiers of growing troughs rotate at 1mm/second. Water from an overhead reservoir is used for both watering the plants as well as rotating the pulley, which allows all the plants to get an even distribution of sunlight and water. The water is then pumped back into the reservoir where is can be recycled into the system.
120 towers yield 0.5 tons of fresh vegetables everyday
System Requirements (3m frame):
Electricity: Powered by a pulley system that uses the force of gravity on the rainwater. This method needs the equivalent one 60-Watt light bulb ($3 a month/unit).
Area: One unit needs only 60 sq. ft. (about the area of a bathroom)
Water: One liter of water per cycle (16 hours/cycle)
System Design and Plan
The facility is located 14 miles from the central business district of Singapore
System Detailing and Diagrams
1 Rain water and recycled water in an overhead tank
2 Water pipe into the pulley system. Pulley rotates the racks
3 The gravity aided pulley uses only about 1 liter of water from the reservoir tank to rotate the racks
4 Water directed into the generator
5 Water pumped into the reservoir, powered by the generator.
Frames in the Greenhouses
-High Efficiency :Over all use of less land, manpower, energy and the workers are shielded from the harsh climatic conditions. All organic waste on the farm is composted and reused.
-High quality controlled environment.
-High flexibility :structures are robust, customizable, scalable; can be grown over a pond or even arable regions.
–Low energy use: predominant use of natural light, eliminating the need for artificial light.
-Low water use :irrigated and fertilized using a flooding method, there is no need for a sprinkler system, thereby eliminating electricity wastage, as well as water wastage due to run-offs. Only 0.5 liters of water is required to rotate a 1.7 ton vertical structure.
-Low maintenance,high yield : ten times more produce than conventional field growing.
-Low transportation distances ensures costs are low, as well as minimize the carbon di oxide emissions into the atmosphere.
The growing season is year round thanks to Singapore’s tropical climate. The growing season in more temperate climates will vary unless weatherproofing measures are taken (eg: greenhouses and hoop houses).
Other benefits Apart from Food Produce:
Apart from food production, this technology is poised to aid in the overall resiliency in the country’s economy.This also allows for local food production that minimizes food waste as a result.
Stakeholders + Policies Involved:
-Ministry of National Development Singapore has set aside $20 million for funding food growth to attain their nation-wide initiative towards 20% food self-sufficiency.
-National Trade Union Congress (NTUC) of Singapore are fair price retailers who operates an inclusive labour union that comprises of 60 affiliated unions one affiliated taxi association, 11 social enterprises, 5 related organizations and over 830,000 members. By supplying their services to this organization, A GO-Gro also contributes to the expansion of this large network.
-Agri-food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore signed a people, private, public (3p) formally structured agreement with Jack Ng that helped to fund his research and facilities in the development of A-GO Gro.
-Sky Greens also has signed an MOU with Singapore’s Temasek Polytechnic technical college. Dr. Lee Chee Wee, Director of the School of Applied Science believes that partnering with Sky Greens will make modern farming a more attractive option and expose them to the technical know how of the industry.(Source: http://ourworld.unu.edu/en/farming-in-the-sky-in-singapore)
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By Ashlex Cox and Raksha Srinivasan