Fujitsu and Oceanair taking vertical farming to next level


22 May 2024
Two flexible ducts maintaining the climate above the UV vertical farming system at Syan Farms

Sophisticated temperature control using Fujitsu General Air Conditioning UK technology is delivering the best possible growing conditions for a vertical farming enterprise in Northamptonshire.

Vertical farming involves growing food indoors on multiple levels, in vertically stacked layers, using UV lighting. With arable space increasingly coming under pressure from urbanisation, the technique aims to provide an efficient and sustainable source of food into the future.

Vertical Future says its systems use up to 98% less water compared to traditional farming, are energy and resource-efficient, and can grow the same amount of produce in 1% of the space when compared to traditional methods. The installation was carried out by CSL Air Conditioning with equipment supplied by distributor Oceanair.

Ten Fujitsu outdoor units make up the climate control system for the Syan Farms’ vertical farming system

Darren James, Director of Vertical Future, said: “We deliver advanced growing solutions tailored to an industry that demands unparalleled precision and control. Our systems integrate sophisticated monitoring and control technologies, ensuring the optimum growth environment to maximise crop quality and yield.

“I was extremely impressed with the combined work of both Fujitsu and Oceanair on this project. Both companies attended site in tandem so between them could come up with the best option for this project in loadings and efficiency, and choose the relevant equipment within the area we could install the systems.

“This meant more than one site visit but they kept me informed throughout the design stage of the project and it has worked wonders. The site has been up and running for over 12 months with no issues.’’

For the installation at Syan Farms in Horton, CSL Air Conditioning chose equipment from Fujitsu to meet the precise requirements of the customer and end-user. Electrical installation was carried out by a third party.

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Syan Farms uses Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) technology, which sets the temperature, light and humidity within each growing stack. By monitoring every aspect of the environment, it can achieve the best possible yield and ensure crops are never affected by poor weather conditions or land damage.

Dave Crate from CSL Air Conditioning, said: “The biggest challenge is designing a system that can distribute air efficiently across the growing area. We have developed a solution with all air conditioning units installed at high level, with cool air sinking across the growing pods and any heat rising into the units. The wall mounts are positioned perpendicular to the growing racks to deliver air across the vertically stacked pods.’’

Oceanair supplied CSL with the equipment needed to keep the growing area at a constant 23°C. It was also crucial to design a system which avoided high-velocity air movement in the 30m2 space, as the plants require conditions as close to natural as possible.

Two Fujitsu 22kW High Static Duct Units are paired with 22kW HP Inverter Condensers. The ducted units are mounted centrally, and each uses a flexible fabric duct sock to distribute air evenly along the centre of the warehouse. These units work alongside eight Fujitsu 9.4kW Inverter Heat Pump Condensers, connected to eight 9.4kW Wall Mount Units. The two groups of four systems, operating off a single controller, are sited at high level on facing walls perpendicular to the growing racks to prevent excess air movement.

Tony Holland of Oceanair said: “We know from long experience the capabilities of the Fujitsu kit and were confident that it was the correct choice for Vertical Future at Syan Farms. It was a new experience to work out climate control loadings for plants rather than people but working as a team of manufacturer, distributor, engineer and end user, we came up with a grid system to make sure each section had the correct loading to do the job and the proof of the warehouse now up and running and working to its full capacity is a testament to all parties concerned.”

Elsewhere on site, a multi split system consisting of a Fujitsu 6.8kW Multi Condenser connected to two 3.4kW Wall Mount Units and a Compact Cassette serves the entrance, offices and meeting area.

The project is the first of this size for Vertical Future and further sites are now in development. For Syan Farms, the installation marks a significant leap forward from the container-based modules with localised cooling used previously.

Kelly Bullivant, Distribution Account Manager at Fujitsu General Air Conditioning, said: “Food security is becoming increasingly important and we are proud to be able to contribute to the development of vertical farming. Our equipment is ideally suited to the precision needed for an installation of this type.’’