Vertical agriculture to save 95% of water with new farming system

Barcelona group says 100% sustainable technology can be "complement" to traditional crops

A worker at Farmbrots inspects some crops
A worker at Farmbrots inspects some crops / Norma Vidal / Marta Vidal

ACN | @agenciaacn | Barcelona

April 1, 2024 02:16 PM

April 2, 2024 07:22 PM

The problem of persistent drought across Catalonia and the need for large quantities of water by the agriculture sector have combined to lead one Barcelona company to to implementing a new, more efficient farming system.

Farmbrots, which grows basil sprouts, radishes and other varieties of vegetables by using a vertical agriculture method is able to save 95% of water.

The plants grow on a substrate of recycled coconut fiber that provides them with the necessary nutrients, as well as the "exact" amount of water to develop. According to the promoters of the project, this is a key tool to respond to the increase in population and demand expected in the coming years.

Un passadís amb safates de cultiu al local de Farmbrots a Barcelona.

By using a vertical and indoor farm located on the busy Rocafort street of the Catalan capital, the small 'start-up' cultivates twenty varieties of vegetables.

Adrés Clarós, one of the company's founders, assures that hydroponic cultivation - vertical farming - allows the use of the "exact" amount of water that each plant needs. "There are no losses and nothing goes underground, it's very efficient." 

Safates de cultiu de Farmbrots a Barcelona.

To do this, the company applies a thorough control of the entire process and has a specific lighting system to guarantee the correct growth of the plants. "We have a computer program that regulates the temperature, relative humidity, and carbon dioxide concentrations," Clarós explained.

In addition, it has high-tech cameras that help them predict moments of water stress. "It is a system that can be adapted to other plantations, but which has difficulties to be implemented on a large scale because it would mean a very high increase in costs," he admitted.

For this reason, he believes that under no circumstances can this methodology replace traditional agriculture. "It's a tool that we have and that we can use to grow certain types of food, but it's clear that the vast majority will continue to come from the countryside," he commented. Thus, the method can be used as a "complement" to traditional farming that can bring great benefits.

Un empleat seleccionant brots per tallar al local de la planta de Farmbrots.

100% sustainable products

Another benefit is that it is designed for urban use and is very respectful of the environment. "We make a local product, it's distributed in electric vehicles, and the containers we use are recycled plastic or made from an organic materials," the head of the company explained. 

Clarós added that these foods have 40% more vitamins, and are free of pesticides and other chemicals as they are grown indoors and are not exposed to the elements and wildlife.


Currently the products that are grown and packed on Carrer Rocafort are sent to a hundred different restaurants with which they work.

In addition, they have recently opened a subscription line for consumers who can order online and receive the package at home, and the company has recently reached a deal with an organic supermarket to deliver its trays of organic sprouts.