Our Software Engineering support services helped Uprooted Farms develop prototype of their QR code labelling system. This system will enable full transparency of their supply chain, which will support the vertical farm to:
The Sustainable Innovation team are now submitting grant proposals in collaboration with Uprooted Farms to extend this project.
Uprooted Farms is a new kind of agricultural company focused on growing leafy salad greens in a controlled environment within a vertical farm, to provide delicious, chef quality produce with full traceability. They were referred to the Sustainable Innovation programme after joining the LAFIC programme.
Vertical farm models allow for urban spaces, such as buildings, tunnels and shipping containers, to be converted into agricultural plots. These indoor allotments use technologies, such as hydroponics, to increase yields of crops being cultivated within a relatively small footprint, compared to traditional farming. London-based UpRooted Farms is close to its end customers, such as restaurants, guaranteeing their access to fresh greens, which can be picked and used in dishes within the same day.
To enhance their brand and optimise the plant harvest process, UpRooted Farms founders Tobias Hoering and Philippe Hohlfeld have collaborated with the Sustainable Innovation Programme to help them create a QR label printing system that would enable customers to scan plants to find out more information about the produce they are buying. UpRooted Farms was also aiming to build a data tracking backend, to be able to track plant harvest times, respond to customer feedback, and gain better insight into potential issues or delays in the plant distribution process.
In the project, LSBU & SBI Research Associate Robert Brown, overseen by Professor Perry Xiao, delivered a working prototype designed to be set up to run in the cloud, with local label printers deployed at each vertical farming site.
“Working with Sustainable Innovation gave us the chance to work with very talented people and expand on a prototype built of our data capturing capabilities. The Sustainable Innovation team gave us insights and assets (in source code) that are helping bring our capabilities to the next level,” according to Uprooted Farms.
In addition to providing Uprooted Farms with a scalable concept, Brown designed the software to track the data about the plant harvests, customer feedback, issues with distribution. Brown and his colleague Ellen South also visited the Uprooted Farms site at the end of the project toprovide a full handover and demonstrate the new processes and software.
The initial project ran for five months.
“When we received the application from Uprooted Farms, we could see that they were an innovative business with a high potential for sustainable impact,” says Brown. “They had also worked hard on their customer research and knew the market and competition well, which bodes well for launching a new product.”
The collaboration has enabled the academic team to gain knowledge about the inner workings of production-grade controlled environment agriculture, and they have submitted grant proposals for related projects with Uprooted Farms, potentially leading to extended collaboration with the vertical farmstart-up
Brown says a favourite part of the project was seeing QR code labels printed automatically each time a new plant, harvest or salad bag was generated in the app.
“If I was to do anything differently, I would definitely visit the farm more often, not only to get early feedback from the growers who will use the app but also to pick up some complementary deliciously fresh salad,” says Brown.
“Working with Sustainable Innovation gave us the chance to work with very talented people and expand on a prototype built of our data capturing capabilities. The Sustainable Innovation team gave us insights and the source code that are helping bring our capabilities to the next level,”