“At Green Automation, we are proud to be part of driving the transformation toward a sustainable and resilient supply of leafy greens,” says Juhana Kantola, Co-Founder and CTO at Green Automation Group. “Of course, we are only a growing system technology provider, but we view the growing system as the single most important factor in this quest.”
“In addition to using the Green Automation growing system, our ongoing projects are all following the Finnish lettuce model. None of these projects is attempting to compete with the hyper local ‘urban-food’ angle, instead each of these facilities is located just outside metropolitan areas and/or near a highway where land is widely available, but close enough to population centers to deliver freshly harvested produce within a few hours’ drive. The location is strategically chosen in terms of the proximity to infrastructure and energy. In those cases where the greenhouse facility is not planned at a large scale initially, it is always designed for multiple expansions to ultimately reach a very large size,” says Kantola. Read more about the Finnish Lettuce Model in this previous article.
2nd expansion in New England
“Our vision is to make fresh, sustainable and locally grown leafy greens the new normal. We are very excited to work with operators who share our belief in the ‘Finnish lettuce model’ to achieve a production costs level that allows for disruption and ultimately substitution of the field lettuce business, the same way we have seen the market develop in northern Europe,” says Patrik Borenius, CEO of Green Automation Americas.
Acres and acres to grow on in Colorado, USA
Borenius continues, “While the focus in North America so far has clearly primarily been on the retail lettuce market, where consumers pay premium prices for leafy greens, there are enormous opportunities in the food service market such as Fast Food and Fast Casual restaurants. Fresh hydroponic tomatoes have already taken the first step into this category. Given the food safety scares and lettuce recalls the North American growers, retailers and food service companies have experienced, there is obvious interest in and demand for a reliable supply of fresh and safe leafy greens. The perception in the market is that the cost target cannot be achieved for this segment. From our experience in Finland and the production efficiency our system can deliver we do know though, that the cost target is within reach and are confident that it can be achieved.”
“Look at our ongoing installation in the Mid-West. The first, out of multiple phases, is being installed right now and there is plenty of room to grow,” says Borenius.
Maximizing yield around the world and in every climate efficiency and economies of scale are imperative to the success at any location, but the more challenging the climate, the more essential it is to maximize the production efficiency. “Good examples are two of our current projects,” says Tero Rapila, Co-Founder and Chairman of the Board, Green Automation Group. “A 1.6 HA greenhouse installation for GC Gorkunov in Novosibirsk, Russia and Pure Harvest Smart Farms’ new leafy greens operation in the Al Ain Region of the UAE. These are two locations with extreme climate challenges. Especially in such situations you need to maximize your yield per m2 and operate very efficiently.”
Space efficiency in the greenhouse with mobile gutter system
“The growing system is a key factor in achieving maximal yield in the greenhouse. Reaching 100Kg/m2 or 20 Ibs/Sqft has been a target for growers around the world. Our NFT growing system is achieving this with head-lettuce and teen leaf. We are on the final home stretch to reaching the 100Kg/m2 magical number with baby leaf lettuce as well. With the right greenhouse, growing system and business model, greenhouse operators will very soon reach this target,” concludes Rapila.