AeroFarms, Nokia Bell Labs to partner on plant quality effort

AeroFarms and Nokia Bell Labs are teaming up on a project to identify and track plant interactions, the two companies announced Thursday.

The Newark-based indoor vertical farming company will bring its commercial growing expertise, agriculture-focused data platform and more to the effort. The Murray Hill-based industrial research business will bring its autonomous drone systems, private wireless networks and more.

“With Nokia Bell Labs, we have developed the next-generation system that can image every plant, every day in a cost-effective way at scale,” David Rosenberg, CEO of AeroFarms, said in a prepared statement. “This level of detailed imaging and insights helps us be better farmers by monitoring our plant biology dynamically and allowing us to course-correct as needed to ensure the highest level of quality all year round.

“When I watch the drones autonomously imaging our plants, I am blown away by how this truly represents the power of harnessing leading-edge technologies and bringing brilliant problem-solvers together from diverse groups to grow the best plants possible.”

The combination will enable AeroFarms to utilize imaging insights to grow the highest quality of plants year-round in its farms. The machine vision technology provided by Nokia Bell Labs has enabled the most precise data capture, down to the level of individual plants and going beyond what even the human eye can perceive, the companies said, to provide insights about everything from leaf size to spotting and tearing.

“Nokia Bell Labs is driven to solve hard and impactful problems and, together with AeroFarms, we are building the ability to see and identify plant interactions at unprecedented levels,” Thierry Klein, vice president, integrated solutions and experiences research lab, Nokia, said in a statement. “The fundamental technologies of this partnership are our strength, and vertical farming is just the beginning. With the AeroFarms platform, we are exploring the power of network-driven intelligence for industrial outcomes.

“These capabilities can expand into a multitude of indoor industrial operations, including logistics, warehousing, distribution hubs and manufacturing.”

The companies have been working together since 2020 and have achieved proof of concept for the state-of-the-art integrated system, they said. Now, they will be scaling the system to all of AeroFarms’ facilities, including ones being created in Virginia and the United Arab Emirates.