Mr. Salad goes 'back to the future'

You may know him as Mr. Salad, although his real name is Grahame Dunling. He's earned his nickname for good reason though, with a career spanning decades in the horticulture industry, taking him from various roles in the UK and around the world, right through to his current job as CEO of Uns Farms in Dubai. At this year's Vertical Farming World Congress, Grahame gave his view on the state of the industry, based on his own vast experience.

New greenhouse system harnesses the power of the sun

You hear a lot about artificial lighting in greenhouses these days. But one new greenhouse system, developed by Ceres Greenhouse Solutions, moves away from that movement, focusing on sunlight instead. Initially designed for cannabis cultivation, the innovations in the SunChamber™ will also 'trickle down' to the company's vented greenhouse systems, Josh Holleb, Solutions Architect with Ceres, explains. Josh, one of the speakers at the upcoming Agritecture Xchange, tells us more about this innovative system.

NZ tomato industry sees growth potential in greenhouse vegetable growing

The New Zealand market is an interesting one. Ever since the nineties the production of fresh tomatoes has shifted indoors and the market is quite isolated. This provides opportunities since the local market is strong, yet also challenges, for example in labor. In October, TomatoesNZ formulated its new strategy for the next 3-5 years, with a view to "building a resilient, sustainable and profitable New Zealand tomato industry." Barry O'Neil, chair of TomatoesNZ, sees a number of challenges and opportunities in the country's tomato sector. Together with Helen Barnes, general manager of TomatoesNZ, he updates us on the market.

"We anticipate energy savings of approximately 2.4 to 3.3 kWh per square foot per year"

Candidus was awarded a $683,562 Conservation Innovation (CIG) Grant from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. Working in collaboration with NRCS and CEA farmers across the US, the company will implement adaptive lighting control technology in 12 commercial greenhouses in Virginia, Michigan, and California. "In partnership with EnSave, The University of Georgia and the Michigan State University Extension Service, we will (a) demonstrate and quantify the environmental and economic benefits the adaptive lighting control can provide to the greenhouse industry at the farm level, state level, and national level; (b) determine growers’ perception and adoption/rejection considerations for investing in advanced lighting controls; (c) provide NRCS with practice scenario guidance to facilitate the technology’s integration into programs such as EQIP; and (d) promote awareness of the technology through a variety of outreach activities," explains Erico Mattos, CEO of Candidus.

"Robots are at the beginning of their potential, while greenhouse workers are at their zenith"

Robotization has been a key development in the greenhouse industry in recent years. With the recent investment by Japanese car part giant DENSO, Dutch agtech company Certhon is well-positioned to play a big part in this development. At the GreenTech, Edwin Vanlaerhoven, head of business development at Certhon, and his colleague Eisuke Itou (DENSO R&D), talked about what the industry can expect in that regard.

"We have barely scratched the surface in the MENA AgTech sector"

"Badia Farms is the first commercial vertical farm to launch in the GCC. We officially started operations in the heart of Dubai in 2016, but the seeds were planted further back. My background is in engineering and banking. I first took the entrepreneurial leap in Saudi Arabia in the hospitality sector by opening multiple unique restaurant concepts." That's how Omar Al Jundi, Founder & CEO of Badia Farms, one of the speakers at the upcoming Agritecture Xchange, introduces himself.

"We make sure that each cubic foot of your mix is in total conformity with all our specifications"

For over 90 years, Lambert Peat Moss Inc. has been offering a wide range of peat-based products from various grade of Canadian Sphagnum Peat moss to one of its assorted ready to use professional mixes. Lambert Peat Moss has been dedicated to meet the special needs of professional horticulturists, nursery growers, greenhouse growers, vegetable producers or amateurs around the world.

"Vertical farming is not the answer for all of humanity's woes"

On the second day of the Vertical Farming World Congress, the speakers really got to the meat of the matter (or should that be to the leafy greens of the matter?). The day was opened with three presentations on market opportunities in the industry, given by Ian Cox of Innovate UK, Christine Zimmermann-Loessl, Chairwoman of the Association for Vertical Farming, and Henry Gordon-Smith, Founder and CEO of Agritecture.

Vertical Farming World Congress kicks off with remote site visits

Under normal circumstances, participants in the Vertical Farming World Congress, organized by Zenith Global, would have been able to visit some vertical farming sites, see the lights, sample some produce, talk to the farm managers. With the global pandemic still raging, however, the organizers decided to take the event online. As part of that move into the virtual domain, participants were able to 'visit' some vertical farms from the comfort of their own home.

Agroparks in the U.S. - a horn of plenty for investors?

America is known as the land of opportunity. When it comes to greenhouse horticulture though, there's still a world to win. With a large amount of greenhouse vegetables being imported from Canada and Mexico, and food production not always concentrated in the highly populated East and West Coast, there is room for growth. And the Dutch are looking to help - specifically, the Dutch Greenhouse Delta, which organized an event to highlight the huge potential for investors in U.S. agroparks.

Turn-key business models of feeding & greening megacities

According to FAO (2016), the production of fruit and vegetables in the world would have to triple to provide a healthy diet for everyone. The combination of continued rapid urbanisation of China, growing urban middle class, and COVID-19 means that the demand for nutritious, trustworthy, safe, and premium quality fruit and vegetables will only accelerate in the coming future. "Integrated horticulture systems have significant benefits over open field production in terms of quality, variety, resource efficiency, reliability, food safety and so on. Growing near megacities, or shorter supply chains, can further reduce transport, emissions, and food waste", explains Tiffany Tsui, CEO of Springtide Strategy.

Autonomous peroxide generation system promises crop boost

A new irrigation water treatment solution provides autonomous peroxide generation for improved crop protection, increased yields, and reduced irrigation system maintenance. "HPNow’s HPGen A-Series product line is specifically designed for the needs of horticulture growers. This autonomous system generates Peroxide UltraPure directly on site, using only water and electricity as inputs, with no need for user intervention or any handling of chemicals", Ziv Gottesfeld, CEO of HPNow, explains.

Greenhouse, outdoor, or indoor: Which kale is healthiest?

Urban populations have plenty of access to calorie-dense, nutrient-poor foods. In order to move to a healthier diet, however, they need access to vegetables and other micronutrient-dense foods, according to Danish economist Per Pinstrup-Andersen, who says it's time to take vertical indoor farming seriously. Against this background, scientists from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) and Cornell University decided to research the nutrient content of kale, comparing crops grown in the field, greenhouse, and indoors. In the latest Indoor Ag Science Cafe, Dr. Neil Mattson (Cornell) and Dr. Marianne Nyman (RPI) presented their findings.

"Spend less time on your controls, but more quality time with your plants"

When your team wins the Autonomous Greenhouse Challenge, you may safely call yourself an expert on autonomous cultivation. René Beerkens, who's been with Hoogendoorn Growth Management for twenty years, and Evripidis Papadopoulos, who worked as a Data & Algorithm specialist for Hoogendoorn during the challenge and is now back to LetsGrow.com as a Researcher & Data Analyst, were both involved with winning team AuTomatoes, and from the Hoogendoorn headquarters, they shared some of their insights with growers.
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