Finnish tomato grower, Agrifutura is looking to the future of food production in greenhouses. With a total growing area of 45,000 square meters under glass, the team produces 3.2-3.3 million tons of the highest-quality tomatoes each year, to be enjoyed by consumers across Finland.
When it came to planning a 25,000 square meter expansion in 2021, Agrifutura CEO Sebastian Anttila, knew that LED lighting technology would be key to the future success of the company, not just to reduce energy bills, but to ensure the continued quality of the crop.
In order to produce tomatoes that are fresh, tasty, and naturally packed with all the vitamins and antioxidants you’d expect, Agrifutura uses an older variety of tomato, which typically produces lower yields than some of the tomato varieties employed by large-scale growers. “LEDs have been proven time and time again to raise production, and it’s an important part of the technology mix that we use to bring the yields of our tomatoes up to the same levels as other varieties - all without compromising quality,” says Sebastian. “Anyone trying an Agrifutura tomato for the first time can expect it to be fresh, it will taste and smell good, and the texture is how a tomato should be.”
A hybrid model
After careful consideration, balancing the need to maintain production quality and yields alongside the company’s ambitious net-zero targets, Agrifutura chose a hybrid lighting model for its new facility. The expert lighting design team at Current developed a detailed lighting plan to calculate the minimum number of fixtures and exact placement required to meet Agrifutura’s needs, deploying a total of 3,552x 400W Arize® Element L1000 LED top lights and 3,552x Arize® H1000 1000W HPS fixtures. By interspersing LED top lights between HPS fixtures, Agrifutura could be confident that every plant would receive the optimal amount of light each day to maximize vegetative growth and fruit production, whilst slashing energy consumption and operational costs compared with an all-HPS installation.
A valued partner
For Sebastian, working with Current provided reassurance – both in terms of product quality and partnership. “It was really important for our peace of mind that we worked with a large company for our lighting, and we feel safe working with Current. The fixtures are extremely high quality; it’s a well-designed unit that will last for years, and we haven’t had a single failure or needed to change a single unit since the installation.”
With global supply chain issues continuing to affect all industries around the world, Current’s global network of partners helped ensure the smooth delivery of fixtures whilst the team coordinated on-site installation within hours of deliveries to guard against accidental damage or storage challenges. Sebastian notes, “It’s impacted everyone, but we had very good teamwork, and any issues were resolved quickly and efficiently.”
The future of greenhouse growing
Agrifutura has ambitious targets to reduce the carbon footprint of its production to net zero within the coming years. The company has already managed to produce its tomatoes with a carbon footprint of just 0.36kg of CO2 per kilo of tomatoes; far smaller than many outdoor growers located in warmer Mediterranean climates. The in-house team is also exploring innovative ways to capture more CO2 through its tomato crops, converting it into useful commercial by-products, as well as exploring further advances in growing technology that will significantly increase the yield of each crop without requiring further resources.
Although Agrifutura only serves the Finnish market for now, with further plans for national growth, Sebastian doesn’t rule out the possibility of international expansion, should they see an opportunity to provide the same high-quality produce in other markets. And by combining energy-efficient LED lighting with technologies developed by Agrifutura’s in-house team to fully automate the growing process, the future of greenhouses could be significantly more productive and energy efficient.
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