"I have been making a living from agriculture for about 14 years, trading in fruits and vegetables. Yet, climate change has brought a lot of weather extremes here, making food scarcity visible in periods when what were formerly local products are now imported from the other half of the world. Therefore, I aim to provide fresh produce locally in any season and reduce the environmental impact of our products," says Martin Boháč, Founder and CEO of Bohemian South Agriculture.
Running two indoor farms, one of 100m² and the other a 40-foot shipping container, Martin determined the size by the high initial costs of the technology. The reason behind starting a farm close to his roots in Dýšina, near Plzeň, the Czech Republic, is the lack of products and because of his children, the next generation of farmers. Plzeň is a large city where produce can be sold at reasonable prices to off-takers.
"We harvest around 500kg of cucumbers per week on indoor farms. Initially, I experimented with various crops like lettuce, herbs, tomatoes, zucchini, and cucumbers. Some performed better than others. Eventually, I settled on cucumbers due to lower input costs."
Local products are replaced by imports
Given cucumbers are widespread in the country, Bohemian's selling price is slightly higher than imported goods due to freshness. Martin has been involved in agriculture for about 14 years, cultivating in greenhouses. Managing 3.5 hectares of greenhouse space, the company has ever since been growing lettuce, herbs, tomatoes, cucumbers, melons, and cabbage.
Increasing energy efficiency
Currently, energy prices have significantly increased to around 200 euros/MWh. Yet, the team managed to reduce energy consumption by carefully conducting various light trials and analyzing the impact of photosynthesis. Now, the team is planning to build a photovoltaic system to lower energy costs and reduce the CO2 footprint.
Exploring the possibilities in indoor farming, Martin aims to try new crops to make them economically viable and offer a wider range to customers. "I see further improvement opportunities in our current operation. We aim to expand, but the economic challenges in construction slow us down as we are self-funding everything."
"I haven't considered expanding the business yet as I am trying to do everything myself. However, if someone with similar thinking and vision comes along, I might not object."