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Marco van der Velden, CEO of Artechno

"If you don’t focus on the plant, you cannot develop the tech to be successful”

Although the high-tech pieces of equipment in greenhouses and vertical farms are oddly charming to watch, they tend to stray the attention away from the main point: plants. Thousands-colors LEDs, rolling benches, dripping lines, grow towers – how can one not stare at them? However, at the end of the day, those are simply means to reach a very important end: feed people and, on the other hand, to have a profitable business. That is why Artechno Group has always focused on the plant, “Everything we do starts with the plant,” says Marco van der Velden, the recently appointed CEO of the company. “All of our technology is plant-focused. What does the plant need? By answering that question, we can work out the technology necessary for a certain crop.”

Plant first 
To achieve that, the company focuses a lot on plant research, carried out by their agronomy dept. “Then, we validate and test that research in our own cultivation and demo facility,” says Marco. That’s a crucial step for the company, as only if the solution in question proves itself to be successful during the validation process, then they can make a business case to show to customers. “Currently, we can show a successful business case about lettuce, microgreens, herbs, and leafy greens such as arugula and spinach.” At the same time, there’s more than that, as Artechno is also working with strawberries and different kinds of young plants and fruit crops like tomatoes and sweet peppers. “To successfully implement our technology, it is also extremely important that breeders and seed producers keep on developing varieties that are suitable to be cultivated in CEA setups.”

However, the vertical farming space is navigating quite troubled waters at the moment, and Marco doesn’t hide that. “The shakeout that is taking place now is only partly based on the high energy prices,” he says. “We are convinced that if you don’t focus on the plant, you cannot develop the necessary technology to be successful.”

King and queen 
According to him, it is hard to create a profitable business if one solely focuses on technology. “Remember, the plant is the king and queen together.” Following this principle, Artechno Group created the Automated Vertical Farming (AVF) concept. This system utilizes robotization and data collection to efficiently grow plants with less labor and energy. “The AVF is an automated vertical farming system where both operational and investment costs ensure that our customers successfully run their businesses even in trying times. With this AVF+ system, we have a grip on the business case, even in times when energy prices are rising.”

Needless to say, a lot is going on with CEA production, and that’s why Artechno wants to further connect with the public through the EatThis campaign. “We feel that the innovative and high-tech contributions of the horticultural sector towards overall food production are really not visible to the consumer or even to politicians and decision-makers. So, we find it important to highlight what we can do and how to put the spotlight on the production of high-quality food crops, food safety, and also on profitability. We strive to innovate more and better to keep on improving sustainable food production. To that end, we’re convinced that if others tell our story, the impact will be much greater than what we can achieve on our own or even as a sector together.”

With more public awareness and with the AVF system under their belt, Marco is very optimistic about Artechno’s future. “In 5 years from now, I reckon that Artechno Group, as a turn-key supplier, provides the global standard technology when it comes to automated vertical farming systems. Our AVF+ system will be the leading closed system, and our main markets will be Europe, North America, and the Middle East. I look forward to working towards this goal with a team of passionate people that keeps on innovating when it comes to the sustainable production of healthy food.”

For more information:
Tel.: +31(0)174-512051
[email protected]    

Renee Snijders
[email protected]