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Pioneering Sustainable Future of Vertical Farming: Insights from India Langley of LettUs Grow
India Langley of LettUs Grow Discusses Innovations, Sustainability, and the Future of Vertical Farming at Indoor AgTech Summit
During the Indoor AgTech Summit, I had the chance to talk with India Langley of LettUs Grow. She offered a compelling perspective on the current state and future trajectory of the Vertical Farming (VF) sector. Langley shared insights about the shift in focus over the past few years, especially in aeroponics and software, and LettUs Grow’s recent entry into the greenhouse sector, expanding their Total Addressable Market (TAM).
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“We started with aeroponic containers, and now the introduction of our aeroponic rolling benches in late 2022 generated a lot of traction,” commented India.
She highlighted the prevailing challenges in the VF sector, which propelled LettUs Grow to explore more comprehensive, sustainable solutions. As evidence of their commitment, Langley mentioned their ongoing trial with six pilot projects for the aeroponic rolling benches, covering up to 6 hectares.
“This trial is prevalent for us as only months after we launched our innovative solutions, we already have traction and interest amongst stakeholders,” she added.
One of LettUs Grow's remarkable achievements that Langley discussed was the award they won for energy efficiency. “Ensuring that we proposed a sustainable solution is prevalent for us, and that is why we invested a lot in getting certified as a B corporation and released the Life Cycle Assessment of our containerized solution,” she mentioned.
Much of the conversation revolved around the energy conundrum, with Langley emphasizing where the energy originates. Through its studies of the sustainable impact of its solution, they discovered that having renewable energies as a source could reduce as much as 80% of the carbon emissions of indoor vertical farming. However, Langley stressed the pivotal role of governments in providing a stable energy grid and ensuring the integration of renewable energy sources into various countries.
“The energy issue does not affect only vertical farming or indoor farming but all industries. Of course, we will continue to work on making our solution more sustainable. Still, governments need to provide reliable and greener energy sources at some point because it would benefit the entire economy, not just CEA,” India mentioned.
The issue of greenwashing was also brought to the fore, with Langley voicing concerns about indoor farming operations that claim sustainability without genuinely committing to renewable energy or sustainable practices. In her view, vertical farming must fully embrace renewables to be considered sustainable, an ethos that LettUs Grow strives to embody.
Langley also addressed the challenges of carbon calculation in the VF sector. She critiqued the current practices that often neglect factors like land use and water consumption. With water crises looming worldwide, the VF sector must rigorously factor water usage into its sustainability equation.
Echoing a sentiment shared by many industry leaders, Langley suggested that consumers shouldn't bear the responsibility of vetting the sustainability claims of businesses. Instead, she called on governments to ensure that businesses aren't allowed to market products that don't meet rigorous environmental standards.
“At some point, governments need to set standards to avoid the greenwashing issues we see, not just in vertical farming but also more widely, across industries,” commented India Langley.
She concluded by expressing concerns about the prevailing narratives around VF. The sector has often been cast negatively, with inefficiency and high energy consumption claims. According to Langley, these narratives need to be updated, and it is up to innovative companies to lead the way in shaping this new narrative.
This candid conversation with India Langley underscores the potential for growth and the need for sustainability in the VF sector. As companies like LettUs Grow continue to push the boundaries of what's possible, the future of vertical farming looks promising. Yet, it's clear that the path forward will require further collaboration, innovation, and regulatory support to integrate vertical farming into the broader agricultural landscape.