The farm’s closed-loop system is designed to circulate water through the plants to maximise water usage and efficiency. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: One of the world’s largest hydroponic farms has opened up near Al Maktoum International Airport at Dubai World Central, it was revealed on Monday.

The Bustanica farm, backed by a $40 million investment, is the first vertical farm for Emirates Crop One, the joint venture between Emirates Flight Catering and Crop One, an industry leader in technology-driven indoor vertical farming.

The 330,000 sq.ft facility is geared to produce more than 1 million kg of high-quality leafy greens annually, while requiring 95 per cent less water than conventional agriculture. At any point in time, the facility grows in excess of 1 million cultivars (plants), which will provide an output of 3,000 kg per day.

The farm’s closed-loop system is designed to circulate water through the plants to maximise water usage and efficiency. When the water vaporises, it is recovered and recycled into the system, saving 250m litres of water every year compared to traditional outdoor farming for the same output.

“Long-term food security and self-sufficiency are vital to the economic growth of any country, and the UAE is no exception. We’ve specific challenges in our region, given the limitations around arable land and climate. Bustanica ushers in a new era of innovation and investments, which are important steps for sustainable growth and align with our country’s well-defined food and water security strategies,” said Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive, Emirates Airline and Group.

Bustanica is driven by powerful technology – machine learning, artificial intelligence and advanced methods – and a highly specialised in-house team that includes agronomy experts, engineers, horticulturists and plant scientists.

The produce from the farm will soon be available on Emirates flights as well as supermarkets.

Craig Ratajczyk, CEO, Crop One, said: “After significant planning and construction, and navigating the unforeseen challenges of the pandemic, we’re thrilled to celebrate this tremendous milestone alongside our joint venture partner, Emirates Flight Catering. It’s our mission to cultivate a sustainable future to meet global demand for fresh, local food, and this first large format farm is the manifestation of that commitment. This new facility serves as a model for what’s possible around the globe.”