Abu Dhabi University launches portable farm in bid to boost food security

AirFarm can grow tomatoes and potatoes without the need for soil

The portable AirFarm can grow tomatoes and potatoes without the need for soil. Photo: Abu Dhabi University
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Abu Dhabi University has launched a new portable farm that could help improve food security.

AirFarm is a portable farm that can grow potatoes and tomatoes without the need for soil and instead utilises hydroponics, small pipes that direct water to the roots of plants.

It aims to reduce water wastage and promote food security and sustainable farming practices globally.

Alberto Peralta, director of innovation at ADU, said the indoor container takes about 10 minutes to inflate and can be used to start a farm within a day.

“The AirFarm is not a new idea and there have been other examples in the UAE. But the main difference is that this unit can be installed in a small space,” Dr Peralta told The National.

“They can also be stacked depending on the scope of production. The main objective here is to serve food security purposes.”

AirFarm was launched in collaboration with Midar, a Korean smart-ag technology company, and Rashed bin Khalfan Al Mutawa Dhaheri Holding Company.

It uses artificial intelligence to control the farm climate, which aims to increase crop yields by up to 30 per cent and reduce labour costs by up to 80 per cent.

AirFarm is currently being used as an educational project for students and the wider UAE community to learn about sustainable solutions to overcome food security, with plans to launch an outdoor version that can work under the UAE's climate conditions.

“Every school, university and institution could have something that can be folded and when needed can be unfolded and put to work in a matter of hours,” Dr Peralta said.

“Rather than having expensive investments in creating new supplies and resources in a time of crisis.”

Updated: October 18, 2023, 5:55 AM