“Vertical Farming” is Best Engineering Project at the University of the Highlands and Islands Business Awards

Calum Macdonald wins the engineering prize.

Calum Macdonald, a BEng (Hons) Energy Engineering student, won an award for his vertical farming idea at the 2022 UHI Business Awards.

Calum (26), from Lewis, presented his idea for a small modular vertical farming unit that incorporates sensors and is self-contained but can integrate with other units.

The goal is to produce an affordable system for enthusiasts and commercial growers in rural and urban areas with an emphasis on flexibility.

Its activity would revolve around the supply of these units, sensors and seeds as well as advice.

Calum said: “Rising food costs and supply chain issues meant self-sufficiency issues were on my mind.

“I live in Lewis, where we exist at the end of the supply chain and yet most of our food is shipped from the mainland.

“I thought it was crazy that most of our food is shipped daily by ferry and there have been countless times where a shipping could not take place and the shelves were bare.

“Also, from an environmental point of view, the ferry uses a huge amount of marine diesel, so the carbon cost associated with that food must be huge.

“I have seen many YouTube videos about vertical farming and how enthusiastic individuals have built facilities for themselves and an increasing number of companies are trying to develop an economic business model for this space.”

He added: “I am happy and excited to win an award! I didn’t expect to win but it will help me in many ways.

“I look forward to capitalizing on the momentum this brings and moving forward in my own life.”

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