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This Week in Indoor Farming
GoodLeaf Farms, Canada’s largest vertical farming company, has announced securing a $78 million syndicated debt financing from CIBC and Farm Credit Canada (FCC) months after securing a $150M capital financing. This funding will support the company’s rapid commercial growth and expand its network of innovative indoor farms across Canada.
The company plans to open new farms in Calgary and Montreal in 2023, adding 200,000 square feet to GoodLeaf’s production capacity. These farms are projected to produce approximately two million pounds of locally grown, fresh leafy greens annually. Establishing these new farms will consolidate GoodLeaf’s leadership position in Canada, making it the only Canadian vertical farming company producing nutrient-dense, pesticide-free baby greens and microgreens nationwide.
In addition to securing CIBC and FCC as lenders, GoodLeaf announced that Export Development Canada had made an equity investment in the company, co-investing alongside Power Sustainable Lios. This investment is expected to add strategic capabilities to GoodLeaf’s ownership group.
“We are excited to partner with CIBC, Farm Credit Canada, and Export Development Canada as we continue to expand our operations and deepen our leadership position in vertical farming,” said Barry Murchie, Chief Executive Officer at GoodLeaf. “We look forward to working closely with these leading institutions to address the challenges faced by Canada’s current agricultural system.”
In a significant advancement for urban agriculture, agricultural technology company Plenty has announced the opening of its new Plenty Compton Farm, a sophisticated indoor vertical farm in Compton, California. The farm is designed to produce an estimated 4.5 million pounds of leafy greens per year within the confines of a single city block, making it 350 times more efficient than a traditional farm per acre.
The innovation comes from the incorporation of Plenty’s patented 3D vertical architecture, resulting from a decade’s worth of research and development, which enables the company to maximize space usage and automate all stages of the farming process, from sowing to harvesting.
“This is the first step in making indoor-grown produce a significant part of the global food supply,” said Plenty CEO Arama Kukutai. “We are honored to be taking that step in our home state of California with the community of Compton.”
Plenty’s distinctive farming approach eschews the flat planes traditionally used in greenhouses and other vertical farms, instead favoring two-story high vertical towers. This shift towards a 3D farming architecture allows the farm to produce higher yields with a less spatial footprint, pushing the boundaries of efficiency in indoor farming.
Local Mayor Emma Sharif praised the farm’s impact on the local community, noting that over 30% of the farm’s staff were hired from Compton. “Plenty’s Farm is a model for how we can increase access to fresh, locally grown food for urban populations while supporting cities’ economic development,” she stated.
Research conducted by Signify (Euronext: LIGHT), the global leader in lighting, in conjunction with Wageningen University & Research and Nunhems, has shown that using far-red light can increase tomato yield by nearly 20%, depending on the variety. Furthermore, the study demonstrated that this increase is achieved when far-red light is utilized throughout the entire photoperiod alongside the standard PAR (Photosynthetically Active Radiation) light.
The study’s main objective was to optimize the use of LED lights, particularly in the growth and development of different crops. Philips Horticulture LED Solutions, a division of Signify, collaborates with partners to research and define optimal light recipes and photoperiods (lighting duration). These efforts recently culminated in new insights specific to tomato cultivation.
Each color within a light spectrum can affect plant development uniquely, and the effect can vary depending on the time of day. Consequently, the study aimed to ascertain the most effective timing for applying far-red light to crops. The research findings affirmed that the most productive results were achieved when far-red light was used during the photoperiod.
Despite these promising results, the optimal use of far-red light is not yet fully understood. “We now have a deeper understanding of how far-red light impacts plants during different times of the day. The next step is to focus on balancing far-red and PAR light to find the ideal equilibrium between crop growth optimization and energy efficiency,” said Erik Stappers, Plant Specialist at Philips Horticulture LED Solutions.
During the 20-week study, all far-red treatments increased sink strength, which enhances the flow of sugars to the fruits. However, this only led to a significant increase in harvest when far-red light was applied throughout the entire photoperiod, which in this study was 16 hours a day. It was observed that the best results indicated a 16% increase in yield, although variations between tomato varieties make the results somewhat uncertain for growers.