AeroFarms and Nokia Bell Labs have agreed to a multi-year partnership to combine their expertise and expand their joint capabilities to further advance the technological capabilities of indoor farming. AeroFarms contributes its expertise in commercial growing, environmental controls, an agriculture-focused data platform, and machine vision core foundation to the partnership. Nokia Bell Labs contributes its autonomous drone control and orchestration systems, private wireless networks, robust imaging and sensor data pipelines, and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies that enable mobile sensor technologies.
Drones fly over vertical farm crops and take autonomous images of each plant. They collect data on overall plant health, for example, leaf size, stem length, coloration, curvature, spotting, and tearing can be detected. The end-to-end system is flexible and robust, using Nokia’s 5G private mobile network with cloud processing technology designed for low latency and high data protection in an on-premise network.
AeroFarms and Nokia Bell Labs have been working together since 2020. A major milestone is the proof of concept for this system and the testing of the technologies with commercial crops. This system will now be applied to all AeroFarms’ crops and future indoor vertical farms. The next ones are planned in Danville, VA, USA, and Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
According to the companies, AeroFarms’ vertical growing platform is more sustainable than conventional farming. It has up to 390 times higher productivity per square foot annually, requires up to 95 % less water and no pesticides. In addition, vertical farming provides local food options for communities, reduces the environmental impact of transporting, and helps combat food waste.