On October 30th 2019, Floria and Ernst Gostner, respectively CEO and president of Fri-El Greenhouse, received an award for sustainable innovation thanks to their hydroponic cultivation system in a large unit (12 hectares) in Ostellato, Ferrara.
The facility is one of the most technologically-advanced in Europe and employs Dutch technology. It will be soon extended to cover 30 hectares.
The exterior of the greenhouse in Ostellato (Ferrara)
"We are pleased with tomato production and the contracts in place with the big retail chain. 65% of the produce is destined abroad and the rest stays in Italy. A very important client asked us to differentiate supplies so, a few months ago, we started producing 20% of the cocktail variety."
Alessio Orlandi, in an archive photo
At the moment, the company employs 80 operators and reaches 120 units at peak times. When all the building work will be over in a year's time, the number of employees will triple.
The award conferred to the Gostners by Regione Emilia Romagna kept the high level of innovation of the facility into consideration. The greenhouse is heated with the energy produced by the biogas system and tomato plants can grow up to 13-20 cm a day. They are planted in mineral wool and are fed with a water and mineral solution.
Bird's eye view of the 12 hectares lit with LEDs
LEDs support natural lighting, especially in the winter. In the morning and evening, operators must use protective glasses not to strain their eyes.