After three years of development, a seven-acre greenhouse facility operated by Bayer just outside of Marana is expected to begin operations at the end of January, with plans to begin heading toward at full capacity in March. The facility will produce genetically modified corn.
The facility is located on a 155-acre plot just north of a Tucson Electric Power solar farm. The site will focus on seed production and agricultural innovation, and will use automation to optimize plant density and workflow. At full capacity, Bayer expects the facility to average three to four crop cycles per year. Half of the corn grown will have specialized traits due to biotechnology, and half will not.
As the greenhouse’s environment is controlled, the facility will be able to recycle roughly 90 percent of its water, and use only a fifth of the water normally used on an open cornfield. According to Matthew Lingard, site lead for the new facility, although the facility is only seven acres, Bayer purchased 155 acres for the water rights and associated wells, but did not provide a specific number on how many gallons of water the facility would use annually.
The facility will provide multiple products for farmers to purchase, including herbicide- and insect-resistant plant seeds, herbicides and conventional seeds without GMO traits.