"We are growing fruity vegetables indoors with yields roughly 8 times higher than anything on the market, such as 800 kg of cucumbers and 500 kg of tomatoes per square meter per year," claims Ilan Ofer, Chief strategy and marketing officer of Grow-Tec.
Grow-Tec provides comprehensive technology solutions for controlled environment agriculture ranging from environmental controls to bespoke LED lighting and fertigation automation. The company supports indoor farms and greenhouses alike in the planning, implementation, and operations of their controlled agriculture facilities.
Grow-Tec was initially a small family business but received substantial funding in 2022, which coincided with the company's proof of concept for the vertical farming of fruity vegetables. Since then, Grow-Tec has been gearing up to scale up its business.
Pilot facility in Israel producing unbelievable yields
As Ilan explains, Grow-Tec is based in northern Israel and has a pilot facility beside the head office. At this facility, Grow-Tec is reportedly producing unheard-of yields in fruity crops. The company hopes to increase its yields by another 20-30% by the end of 2023.
Whereas fruity vegetables are typically grown vertically, Ilan explains that Grow-Tec's patented design has plants growing horizontally, with the fruit hanging downwards and being easily accessible for harvesting. This horizontal system can be stacked six tiers tall.
"As the plants grow, the lower part of the stem is empty, so we add another plant that chases the first one, using that space and achieving maximum density," says Ilan.
Grow-Tec itself is not an indoor farm and uses its pilot plant to demonstrate its solution to clients. When a client places an order, Grow-Tec designs the facility according to the client's needs, then builds it on the client's premises, all within a few months. The company also has standard growing facilities, which combine cucumbers and tomato growing rooms with vertically grown leafy greens for maximum density and utilization of energy and real estate.
"We want to use the unused side walls to grow leafy greens for free. The combination of the leafy greens alongside the veggies, plus the high yields enable us to show that we have profitable economics," Ilan explains.
Horizontal production makes economic sense
According to Ilan, the economics of vertical farming has been a major stumbling block for farms as they struggle to provide fruits and vegetables at a price benefiting both the farm and the consumers. Increasing the yield so significantly within the same production area allows growers to slash the price of their products without undercutting themselves.
While many vertical farms opt for modular systems to grow slowly but surely, Ilan explains that this is possible with Grow-Tec but that it is also possible to start big, as the system delivers on its promises.
"We can put facilities side-by-side, but honestly, you can get 4.000 tons of vegetables per year in a 4.000-square-meter facility," says Ilan.
Moving forward, Grow-Tec plans to continue expanding its crop portfolio to include peppers and animal fodder, as well as integrate more automation into the facilities to reduce the number of tedious tasks like harvesting, pruning, and transplanting.
For more information:
Ilan Ofer, Chief strategy and marketing officer