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Sky Greens Canada CEO Bob Holm: Pioneering Low-Carbon Vertical Farming and Challenging Controlled Environment Agriculture Norms

Bob Holm Talks Local Production, Vertical Farming Versus CEA, and the Future of AgTech

Top Vertical Greenhouse System in US & Canada - Sky Greens Canada

We recently sat with Bob Holm, CEO of Sky Greens Canada, to discuss Sky Greens' role in the AgTech sector and their future outlook on the industry. Sky Greens Canada specializes in low-carbon, hydraulic-driven, commercial vertical farming systems. Their mission is to revolutionize indoor and greenhouse growing through intelligent, space-saving, rotating growing solutions. They aim to address food security issues in Canada and worldwide, where many fresh fruits and vegetables are imported. By providing efficient vertical farming technology, they strive to increase local food production and reduce reliance on imported resources. Their ultimate goal is to transform the farming industry through innovative green urban solutions that have minimal impact on land, water, and energy resources, ensuring food supply security, safety, and accessibility.

Sky Greens offers the first rotating vertical farming system to address the demand for locally grown fruits and vegetables. Their patented system consists of rotating tiers of growing troughs mounted on an A-shape aluminum frame. The technology allows for uniform sunlight, irrigation, airflow, and nutrient distribution to the plants as they move through the structure. The economic benefits of their system include high yield, high quality, and flexibility for different crops and growing media. Additionally, the system is energy-efficient, using natural sunlight and a unique hydraulic water-driven rotation system. It also minimizes water use through an enclosed reservoir system and recycling. The low-maintenance design and scalability make it a promising solution for efficient and sustainable urban farming.

Bob stressed that Sky Greens Canada is "farming systems focused" and does not feel confident growing food "on the grid" through a completely controlled environment. " We need to let the sun in, whether it is a greenhouse, a sprung structure, or geothermal energy. It can be possible and cheap".

Do you think people aren't researching enough into whether they should be growing in a controlled environment or greenhouses?

"Yes, 100%. There is a lot of hype around these stocks doing well with controlled environments, but it's truly up to the grower. We need to build everything around the grower because they're the ones that will lead the farms to success. " mentioned Bob. He emphasized that controlled environment growing has a big buzz because it's a new tech. Still, it is costly as opposed to traditional vertical farming, which has been practiced worldwide for years. "We don't want to get looped into CEA (Controlled Environment Agriculture). CEA is failing; Vertical Farming is the art of getting more plants per square foot. CEA might not work, but vertical farming is a proven successful way to increase crop yield".

With Climate Change creating more environmental challenges, do you think we will increase CEA farming?

"I think the future of farming will be hybrid," mentioned Bob. " If you have a good environment now, why not use it? We must let the sun in; we need to take the free energy coming out of the earth.

What do you think about the rise of AI and Machine Learning in agriculture?

"It is a great idea, but I would rather have humans in the field. They check the plants, see the bugs, and find problems. Humans are the number 1 defense for plants. AI will be great, but it is too expensive at the moment. It is new and will have its role, but today’s business plan and unit economics cannot make the cost work in most countries."

Do you have any problems finding labor?

With many farms finding it hard to find skilled workers in the field, labor and automation are regularly questioned."You just have to pay them right," said Bob. "You don't want minimum wage- you want workers that want to be there. That means providing good pay and benefits; they are the most important people on the farm."

What can you produce at Sky Greens?

"Everything, all of the greens, herbs, and berries, it's endless—anything 18" or less. We can also row taller plants, which would sacrifice rack space in our towers. We have someone growing trees as well. We also grow fantastic fodder. Our systems can support growing hydroponically or in the dirt.

What is your long-term goal?

"I want to get more local food in our communities in Canada. We import too much, and we need to get our food back. We are working with people in Monaco, Berlin, and the middle east. Our parent company Sky Greens Singapore, is backing us up, which is also truly unique. "

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