Smart farmers

Background

Brazilian big cities embrace urban farming

In the Brazilian cities of São Paulo and Porto Alegre large vertical farming projects are being started.

Brazilian large cities have started urban farming projects with the goal to produce fruit and vegetables in a sustainable way. Future Farming took a look at two of those urban farms and witnessed how Brazil aims to bring agriculture to the big cities.

Pink Farms

Pink Farms is located in São Paulo, the largest city in South America. Currently, Pink Farms has 750 square meters available for indoor production of all types of greens, such as lettuce, arugula, chard, spinach, basil, microgreens, among others.

“When we looked into the greens and vegetables production chain in Brazil, we saw that efficiency was quite low, with post-harvest losses reaching 40%. In other words, for every 100 kg of edible leaves, only 60 kg is consumed”, says Geraldo Maia, co-founder of Pink Farms.

Thus, Maia and his business partners, brothers Mateus and Rafael Delalibera, started their Pink Farms urban farming project in 2016. Their goal: increase efficiency and sustainability in food production, using a ‘farm to table’ concept in the heart of a city that holds 12 million people like São Paulo.

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Pink Farms is located in São Paulo, the largest city in South America. Currently, Pink Farms has 750 square meters available for indoor production of all types of greens, such as lettuce, arugula, chard, spinach, basil, microgreens, among others.
Pink Farms is located in São Paulo, the largest city in South America. Currently, Pink Farms has 750 square meters available for indoor production of all types of greens, such as lettuce, arugula, chard, spinach, basil, microgreens, among others.

Pink LED light

The urban farming facility offers an impressive sight. Its rooms are hermetically sealed and the usage of LED lights puts everything in a pink glow. Vegetables and plants are grown using fully automated systems. Pink Farms uses hydroponic techniques and controlled procedures in order to achieve highly sustainable results. For example, their system reduces water consumption by 95% compared to open-field farming, while the vertical farming system means a much smaller area is needed to grow the same amount of plants.

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Pink Farms is able to create the perfect growing conditions, where no pesticides are needed and 50% less fertiliser is being used.
Pink Farms is able to create the perfect growing conditions, where no pesticides are needed and 50% less fertiliser is being used.

No pesticides and 50% less fertiliser

Pink Farms is able to create the perfect growing conditions, where no pesticides are needed and 50% less fertiliser is being used.

“Using the farm to table concept, we reduced the number of intermediaries, time, losses and impact generated by the chain, delivering a a much fresher product to the consumer. Odds are our plants can be consumed the day they were harvested, eliminating post-harvest waste by 30%”, explains Maia.

Pink Farm has received investments of US$ 400,000 from venture capitals (SP Venture and Capital Lab) and its goal is to be the main vertical farming company in Latin America.

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Mateus Delalibera, Gerlado Maia and Rafael Delalibera  started their Pink Farms urban farming project in 2016. Their goal: increase efficiency and sustainability in food production, using a 'farm to table' concept in the heart of a city that holds 12 million people like São Paulo.
Mateus Delalibera, Gerlado Maia and Rafael Delalibera started their Pink Farms urban farming project in 2016. Their goal: increase efficiency and sustainability in food production, using a 'farm to table' concept in the heart of a city that holds 12 million people like São Paulo.

Smart Local Farms

In the city of Porto Alegre, in Rio Grande do Sul state, an urban farming facility is to be built on the banks of the Guaíba River, the main touristic attraction in the city. The project is called Smart Local Farms and will entail 600 m² of greenhouses in a total ’ urban garden’ area of 100,000 m².

This urban garden project became possible thanks to a partnership between different players as the Association of Marketing and Sales Managers of Brazil (ADVB RS), which provided the area, the Social Development Agency Besouro, agtech company Elysios and the Brazilian Open Food Institute.

“The goal is to create a new food model in the city, creating food production spaces in areas that are not currently used. We want to transform 100,000 m² of concrete into food production sites, in a so-called food belt”, explains Matheus Von Muhlen from the Open Food Institute.

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The called Smart Local Farms project will entail 600 m² of greenhouses in a total ' urban garden' area of 100,000 m² in the city of Porto Alegre.
The called Smart Local Farms project will entail 600 m² of greenhouses in a total ' urban garden' area of 100,000 m² in the city of Porto Alegre.

Artificial Intelligence and Internet of Things

Agtech companny Elysios Agricultura Inteligente supplies technology that uses software and automation systems, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IOT). “We will use sensors and automation systems to control the greenhouse’s irrigation and air conditions, next to digital tools for managing and implementing traceability”, says Frederico Brito, general director of Elysios.

Application of fertiliser and irrigation will be fully automised, so every plant gets the right amount of inputs at the right moment. This should lead to 36% less costs, a 50% production increase and a 60% revenue increase.

“Technology brings together the best of both worlds here,” says Brito. “We bring maximum nutritional value to the table, no chemicals are used and the environmental impact is minimised.”

Social impact

The Smart Local Farms project will also enable communities to work in vegetable gardens. The Besouro Institute and public entities will train vulnerable people interested in taking part in the project. That way, next to promoting healthy nutrition and environmental sustainability, the project aims to create local jobs and will also have a social impact.

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