Farmitank

This interview details Farmitank, a company based in Spain. The interview is with Cristian Nieves, R&D Department at Farmitank.

Source: Farmitank

What is the origin story of Farmitank?

Farmitank is a turnkey vertical farming solution developed by PARCITANK S.A., a leading company in the Spanish metal processing market. As specialist in the manufacture of stainless steel tanks, we came up with the idea of integrating a vertical farm inside a tank and mainly due to the space optimization since in a very small area we can reach a lot of height. Our purpose is to sell the technology as a turnkey solution.

Thus, in 2016 the idea was born and between 2017 and 2021 a series of small and medium-scale prototypes were developed through national innovation projects. In 2021 we started the LIFE FARMITANK project, a project co-financed by the European Commission and through which we have demonstrated the environmental and socio-economic benefits of the technology, through the operation of a large-scale pilot plant at the FLORETTE facilities, the main producer and seller in the IV range category in Spain. This project has recently been completed and we are currently in the phase of launching the technology to the market and finding customers.

Source: Farmitank

What are some of the biggest challenges facing Farmitank in the future?

We are facing an increasingly competitive sector with a versatility of solutions, from containers to fully automated vertical farms, where each of these systems will have its market niche. Although 2023 was difficult for the sector, with numerous bankruptcies and closures, the sector is recovering and the solutions that are profitable are still moving forward. Therefore, customers are demanding, and this forces us to constantly reduce manufacturing costs, improve energy efficiency, reduce labor, and optimize crop yields. I would say that these are the 4 main axes of continuous improvement.

Besides, we are faced with the search for collaborators, partners and customers that will allow us to maximize the replication of the technology and to launch the product to markets beyond Europe, where to date we have no previous experience but where vertical farming undoubtedly has great chance of success.

Finally, we consider that one of the biggest challenges we face is building trust with our future customers. That's why we don't recommend invest in a large-scale facility without first testing the solution on a small scale, and we offer custom-designed solutions for this.

Source: Farmitank

Source: Farmitank

What is unique about Farmitank compared to competitors?

Farmitank is very different from other vertical farming systems in terms of design, and we can highlight the features below.

It is modular, scalable and detachable: 

  • It is modular since it is formed by screwed panels of 3 meters high and 1.3 meters wide. Therefore, it can be transported worldwide inside a freight container and the assembly is carried out on site by PARCITANK staff.
  • It is scalable from 3 meters to 18 meters high depending on customer needs.
  • It is detachable so it can be dismantled and installed in another location if necessary, reducing the carbon footprint.

The shape of the facility is quite different. Our cylindrical design is unique and allows us to obtain one of the highest ratios of crop area per occupied area. Occupying only 40m2 of area we can install up to 400m2 of cultivation area, this is a 1:10 ratio.

Thanks to the cylindrical design we integrate a central elevator that allows us to access the cultivation levels easily and quickly. It is an ergonomic and accessible solution that allows the integration of automation inside, such as sowing and harvesting machines, since it has 10m2 of useful surface.

Source: Farmitank

We use light reflectors to improve electrical efficiency and the homogeneity of light distribution. In this way, all the emitted light is concentrated inside the cultivation level.

No building is needed. Farmitank is designed to be installed outdoors so this translates into savings in CAPEX, construction permits and assembly times.

It is a turnkey system so PARCITANK design, manufacture, install and maintain the facility. For this, we have developed a software that integrates the control of all technologies and allows remote control, analyzing operation through graphs and history, and even contains an alarm or failure management system.

All these features make Farmitank a unique solution on the market. 

To learn more about the technology, you can watch the following video: https://youtu.be/-9jXtid2xgc?si=aMJNxJAxCCjcHodY

What are some other relevant metrics of the company (growing area size, production quantity, team size, etc.)?

To date we have installed 624m2 of cultivation area, in 3 pilot facilities, mainly adapted to the cultivation of lettuce, aromatic herbs and microgreens. At our research plant in Villarrobledo, we carry out optimization trials of new equipment, consumables, and crop varieties, to advise our clients on cultivation recipes, yields and business plans.

As examples of yields we can highlight that we are able to produce 100kg/m2 per year in lettuce, 50kg/m2 per year in microgreens mix and 40kg/m2 per year in basil. These are just a few examples, as we have tested more than 30 different crop varieties to date.

Our facilities are adapted and equipped for the serial production of this system, and we have a staff of 250 workers that ensures a qualified and specialized workforce. Currently, our R&D department is mainly focused on the development of this technology. 

Source: Farmitank

Source: Farmitank

What are some goals in 2024 and beyond for Farmitank?

After several years focused on the development of the technology, our focus is now on the commercialization of this solution. Our scalable business model allows customers to test the technology on a small scale during the first stage (for research, train, and business plan validation) and then scale the installation to a large-scale tank or a multi-tank facility. To do this, we offer different solutions from 40m2 to 400m2 of cultivation area in a single tank. For facilities with more than 400m2 of cultivation area, several tanks would be installed connected by a central corridor. 

We aim to install at least 10 small-scale installations over the next 3 years and start the installation of large-scale facilities from 2026, when our customers have validated their business plan.

On a technological and agronomic level, we have a strategy of continuous innovation that allows us to continue researching new crop varieties and developing the optimal cultivation systems and recipes for each variety. Now our lines of research are focused on the development of fruits and medicinal plants, in order to expand the range of products.

Source: Farmitank

How can people connect with you or learn more about Farmitank?

The best way to connect with our team is through the following links:

FARMITANK:

Websites: https://farmitank.com/ & https://life-farmitank.eu/

Email: info@farmitank.com

LinkedIn: https://es.linkedin.com/company/life-farmitank

PARCITANK S.A.:

Website: https://www.parcitank.com/

LinkedIn: https://es.linkedin.com/company/parcitank-s-a- 

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