Year in Review: What Has iFarm Achieved in 2021?

It’s been an eventful year here at iFarm, but how will we remember 2021? From launching new iFarms across the world and increasing yields per square metre to growing new crops on an industrial scale and coming close to launching fully automated vertical farms, there’s a lot of highlights to choose from!

Read on to find out what we achieved in 2021 and what’s coming up in the year ahead:
New Farms and Global Growth
Every year, we’re building on our success and developing farms all over the world – and 2021 was no different! Currently, nine farms are being built across Qatar, France, Germany and El Salvador and a further 12 farms are in development globally. Throughout 2021, we also agreed to supply iFarm equipment to three new facilities in Europe (Switzerland, Germany and France), one facility in Central America (El Salvador) and designed partner farms in Estonia, Qatar and the UAE.

The growing demand for global food security and year-round crop growth, combined with the profitability achieved with iFarm technologies, has ensured steady growth in 2021. Our customer base is continuing to expand, and, by Spring 2022, we’ll have a total global cultivation area of 18,626 m².
“Vertical farming technology is in great demand globally but there is a particular need for indoor, controlled environment agriculture (CEA) in regions where climatic conditions make traditional agriculture impossible, challenging or unprofitable. This, combined with increasing innovation and sustainable policies, like the Green Deal 2030, and government grants, means that the largest growth is expected in Europe and the Middle East.”

Alexander Lyskovsky
President, iFarm
In 2021, we signed an agreement with Agrico for a 1,200 m² farm in Qatar and a separate building is now being constructed for this project. In Dubai (UAE) a concept for a 1,603 m² vertical farm has been developed (and already has a strategic partner), and negotiations are underway to develop a concept for a new farm in Saudi Arabia.

As iFarm continues to grow, we look forward to continued expansion and are excited to empower our partners to grow healthy, pesticide-free food in new locations in 2022.
New Product Launch – iFarm Berries
After three years of experimentation, 2021 saw the launch of our new technology, iFarm Berries!

Our in-house agronomists have worked tirelessly to identify the best growing methods, climatic conditions and crop varieties and now, industrial production is underway. The very first iFarm Berries farm was launched in 2021, with the first crop being harvested in December.
iFarm’s expertise in this area have gained worldwide attention, which led to an R&D project with Karls Erdbeerhof in Germany. Karl’s operates adventure villages and theme parks throughout Germany, with on-site farms, shops and restaurants and it's also the largest German agriculture company to grow strawberries using traditional, seasonal methods.

Eager to produce delicious strawberries all year round, Karl’s joined forces with iFarm to grow strawberries using an aeroponics growing method and the first harvest is expected in spring 2022.

We’re thrilled to make year-round strawberry production a reality all over the world and the launch of iFarm Berries technology in 2021 represents a new opportunity for farms owners, operators and investors to grow much-loved fresh products year-round.
Want to know more? Contact the iFarm team to learn more about iFarm Berries and find out how you can launch your very own indoor strawberry farm.
Diversifying Farm Outputs
Until 2021, farms have been most productive when growing a single type of crop. This minimised the amount of equipment required and enabled farms to maximise outputs. However, farm owners and operators were always keen to grow a variety of crops on just one site. Similarly, retailers, restaurants and other buyers were eager to purchase different types of crops from a single farm supplier.

To cater to this demand, we developed iFarm equipment so that it’s capable of growing different types of crops in just one farm. For example, our patented mortar unit prepares food for all types of plants, in accordance with the crops’ individual nutritional needs. Additionally, our racks and lighting fixtures are virtually identical for a wider range of crops, including leafy greens, strawberries and some types of vegetables (e.g., radishes and peppers). For vine-grown vegetables, such as cucumbers and tomatoes, a trellis system is used so that these crops can be grown in a minimal amount of space.
With the ability to grow multiple crop varieties at one farm using the same equipment, farm owners can diversify their portfolio while maintaining optimal productivity and profitability.
“By developing iFarm technologies in this way, we can provide farm owners with lucrative opportunities and expand farm outputs. Furthermore, we can ensure that end-customers have access to all the leafy greens, berries and veggies they need from their preferred iFarm.”

Kirill Zelenski
Managing Director, iFarm Europe
New iFarm Growtune Modules
The iFarm Growtune SaaS platform streamlines farm management, reduces operating costs and enables farms to operate with minimal on-site staff. In 2021, we’ve developed iFarm Growtune even more and released new modules to provide farm owners with an increased number of resources.

New iFarm Growtune modules focus on business processes across a number of core areas, including logistics, warehouse management, order planning and shipping. These extra features and functionalities allow farms to operate more efficiently and, therefore, more profitability.

However, we’re not stopping there! We’re continuing to experiment with CV / AI / ML technologies to establish how iFarm Growtune can incorporate these features into the management of farms. From computer-vision to assess the weight and health of crops to self-navigated drones to gather visual data, the possibilities are endless!
Throughout 2021, we’ve also worked hard to integrate iFarm Growtune with third-party farms and traditional greenhouses and we’ll be continuing this aspect of development in 2022. Our use of a universal API allows you to connect with most sensors and controllers that are used within the indoor growing industry. This, combined with integration with ERP and CRM systems, means that iFarm Growtune can effectively be used to manage third-party equipment and farms.
“Representing a new customer segment and revenue stream for iFarm, we’re pleased to be able to offer existing vertical farms and owners the opportunity to upgrade their farm management and benefit from iFarm technologies. From Spring 2022, iFarm Growtune will be available as a standalone product, so all farm owners and operators can use our leading software to manage their vertical farm equipment.”

Oleg Kostenko
Growtune Product Director, iFarm
New Farm Financing Services
Launching a vertical farm can require considerable investment. With the potential to make high returns and have a positive environmental impact, however, indoor farming opportunities are attractive to entrepreneurs, investors, venture capitalists and existing farm operators. Furthermore, the forecasted growth of the vertical farming industry ensures lenders and mortgagors are highly receptive to funding requests.
To make it easier to enter the market and take farms from concept to operation, we launched our very own farm financing consultancy service in 2021. Working closely with clients to establish their goals, iFarm provides expertise and guidance regarding collaborations, partnerships and funding opportunities.

Whether you’re eager to join the vertical farming revolution, you want to repurpose an existing building and give it a sustainable future or you’re planning to expand your current farm network, our team will be happy to provide the support you need.
YASAI Vertical Farm Launches in Switzerland
In February 2021, iFarm announced a strategic partnership with vertical farming company, YASAI, and Dutch logistics firm, Logiqs, and, in June, we took a deep dive into how vertical farming collaborations can benefit partners, investors and end-customers. After a year of hard work, YASAI’s new farm celebrated its technical launch on New Year’s Eve!
Our congratulations and thanks go out to the YASAI team, and we look forward to future collaborations as YASAI expands their farm network.
“We are delighted to partner with some of the best technology providers in the vertical farming market. We would like to thank partners iFarm and Logiqs for their well-coordinated work. Construction and installation of equipment at the farm site in Zurich began in June 2021, the technical launch of production took place in December, and the grand opening will be at the end of January 2022. Here, we plan to grow up to 20 tonnes of fresh herbs annually. The location of the farm in one of the most expensive cities in the world will help us show the whole of Europe how you can get high-quality fresh crops locally.”

Mark Essam Zahran
co-founder, YASAI
New Product Development – iFarm Leafy Greens Auto
Automation has an important role to play in the future of iFarm technologies and our new product, iFarm Leafy Greens Auto, highlights just how beneficial increased automation will be at farm premises.

Until now, the processes used to grow leafy greens on iFarms have required plants to be manually moved between farm sections (from the planting area to the seedling zone to the growing area and so on). With our new technology, the need for manual labour is drastically reduced.
iFarm Leafy Greens Auto technology automatically plants seeds, moves plants and harvests crops, thus reducing staffing requirements by 30-40%. Additionally, the use of iFarm Leafy Greens Auto technology enables farm space to be used up to 30% more efficiently. With more space available for production, farms can utilise this extra room to increase outputs or introduce new crop ranges.
In autumn 2021, we completed the development of a prototype, and, in December, we started experimenting with the automated technology in a room with a stable microclimate. By summer 2022, we plan to achieve the first harvest with iFarm Leafy Greens Auto on a 500 m² farm, so stay tuned for updates!
Creating Natural Beauty Products with Capsum
In December 2021, we announced an exciting R&D project with leading cosmetics manufacturer, Capsum. We’re creating a state-of-the-art laboratory to enable Capsum to evaluate the large-scale cultivation of plants in a closed environment as a sustainable, safe and reliable growing method.

Capsum’s commitment to only using natural products and its cutting-edge development of microfluidics means that the year-round production of cosmetics ingredients is vital to its operations.

The new laboratory will be housed at Capsum’s Marseille plant and will feature an engineering room and three growing rooms, and will be monitored and managed via the iFarm Growtune platform:
The mini-farm laboratory in Marseille will be used as an R&D platform, providing Capsum with the perfect location to experiment with new ‘plant growth recipes’ for its revolutionary skincare products.
Sebastien Bardon, CEO and Co-Founder, Capsum; Anthony Briot, COO, Capsum
“Capsum uses only natural ingredients to create its beauty products. The company plans to build its own industrial vertical farm in order to produce environmentally friendly raw materials all year round.”

Anthony Briot
Chief Operating Officer, Capsum
Increasing Farm Productivity and Profitability
High productivity rates are at the heart of vertical farming. After all, it’s only controlled environment agriculture (CEA) that can offer year-round crop growth. iFarm technologies take this a step further and enable farm owners to maximise productivity and, therefore, increase the profitability of their business.

Over the last two years, the productivity of vertical leafy greens farms using iFarm technologies increased by 3.5X and the cost of producing greens decreased by 76%.
In 2021, we optimised our tech and introduced new processes to increase productivity and profitability even more. This included:
Free Cooling
Maintaining a stable microclimate optimises plant growth but can require significant energy consumption. In a bid to reduce operating costs and lower the (already minimal) carbon footprint of farms, we began using free cooling to minimise on-site power usage.

By using low temperature external air to chill water and utilising this water in industrial processes, farms are less reliant on traditionally powered heat and cooling. As a result, free cooling can deliver energy savings of 20% to 50%, depending on the season and the geographic location of the farm.
“The range of solutions that can be applied on vertical farms depends on many factors, including location, consumer preferences, pricing policies, seasonality, payroll costs and much more. We work individually with each client, offering to implement solutions that will be economically feasible in their particular case.”

Ksenia Makarova
Head of Sales Department, iFarm
Increased Automation
As we outlined above, the increasing automation of farm processes is set to have a huge impact on farm efficiency and profits. By automating more farm processes, we can reduce the reliance on manual labour and, therefore, significantly cut operating costs. In fact, we plan to decrease staffing requirements on farms by 50% by the end of 2022.

While the implementation of automatic lines for planting, harvesting and packing crops requires additional investment, this is economically justified, particularly in large farms and in regions where human labour is expensive.
“Virtually all of the major producers in Western Europe want to use minimal farm personnel. An hour of human labour is an average of 30 euros, which equates to 60,000 euro per year for just one member of staff. This makes the running costs of manually operated farms too high and reduces profitability. By implementing fully automated solutions, the need for on-site staff and related costs are significantly reduced and profitability increases accordingly.”

Timo Koljonen
EU Sales Director, iFarm
More Efficient Farm Development
Getting a farm up and running quickly enables owners and operators to begin generating revenue more swiftly, and increasing the efficiency of farm development has been on our radar in 2021. While some processes, such as curing concrete, can’t be hurried, there are ways to fast-track the development of new farm premises.

To enable our customers to launch farms more quickly than ever before, we switched to Building Information Modelling (BIM) in 2021. Using a variety of tools and technologies, BIM enables us to create digital representations of farm premises and modify them according to varying design concepts.
BIM cuts costs and reduces the time it takes to design, spec and cost a farm by at least half. The visibility of farms in development via BIM and the ease of interaction between designers enables all parties to operate more efficiently. When we design complex technical objects, such as vertical trusses, we are dealing with dozens of engineering systems and communications. With BIM, they are all visible at a glance. You can simultaneously make changes at different levels and collaborate effectively.
Reducing Capital Expenditure with Lease Financing
Getting a vertical farm off the ground inevitably requires financial resources but our recent partnership with indoor agriculture fintech firm, Contain, Inc., provides owners and operators with new ways to kick-start their ventures.

Via this partnership, iFarm equipment is now available to lease. Working with private lenders, Contain, Inc. facilitates lease financing and custom insurance solutions for indoor growers. Reducing the capital expenditure required to develop a farm, we’re pleased to make iFarm technologies and vertical farming significantly more accessible. Now, prospective farmers can develop and scale their operations more quickly and cost-effectively.
Collabs, Awards and Endorsements
Throughout 2021, we’ve collaborated with a number of partners and companies, and received a selection of industry awards and endorsements from renowned organisations.

As well as partnering with fintech company, Contain, Inc., vertical farming firm YASAI and logistics company, Logiqs, we’ve teamed up with agtech robot supplier, Seasony, to pilot robotics equipment at an iFarm lab in Helsinki and joined forces with the University of Helsinki and the Metropolia University of Applied Science to launch the first ever mini-farms inside residential complexes as part of a social and research program.
Photo: Markku Laine
If you’ve kept an eye on industry news and events, you’ll know that iFarm was recognised and celebrated by a number of highly-regarded organisations in 2021.

Over the past 12 months, we were ranked as one of the ‘Top 10 Promising Finnish Start-ups’nominated for WSIS Prizes 2021 in e-agricultureannounced as an Impact Shakers Food Finalist; ranked as one of Europe’s Top 100 Hottest Young Scale-ups of 2021and recognised by the IDC as a European technology start-ups that contributes to the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Also in 2021, iFarm was awarded the prestigious Efficient Solutions label by the Solar Impulse Foundation. Identifying clean and profitable solutions, the Solar Impulse Foundation is proving that sustainability and commercial success go hand in hand. By providing industry leaders and key decision-makers with fast access to proven, clean and profitable solutions, they’re making it easier for organisations to embrace sustainable solutions and iFarm is proud to fly the flag.
What to Look Forward to in 2022
As you can see, we’ve worked hard to maximise farm productivity and profitability throughout 2021, but there’s plenty more to come!

In 2022, we’re launching a new product - iFarm Veggies. By summer 2022, our customers will be able to purchase iFarm Veggies equipment and grow a wider variety of produce on vertical farms. With vegetables being in high demand yet producing a high carbon footprint (and commanding a high price) as they’re transported around the globe, we’re confident that the year-round local production of healthy vegetables with iFarm Veggies will be a hit with farmers and end-customers alike.
We’ll also be continuing our research into plant microbiology and nutrition in 2022, with plans to use our findings to reduce production costs by a further 10% by the end of the year. Building on our transition to BIM modelling, speeding up the development process is another of our strategic goals for the upcoming year, so be sure to check out our latest news if you want to launch or scale a farm in record time!

Now you’ve taken a fast-track tour of iFarm in 2021, all that’s left for us to do is wish you a happy new year, dear readers! We’d like to thank you for your continued support throughout 2021 and wish you well in 2022 – may it be as fruitful as possible!