Four leading greenhouse growers are committing to sustainability

05-07-2021    11:39   |    Greenhouse Grower

Four leading indoor vegetable producers (two of them with greenhouses and two in the vertical farming world) have joined with the Resource Innovation Institute (RII) under the banner of its USDA Conservation Innovation Grant-funded project: Data-Driven Market Transformation for Efficient, Sustainable Controlled Environment Agriculture.

AppHarvest (Kentucky) and Revol Greens (Minnesota and Texas) are vanguards of modern greenhouse cultivation, while Elevate Farms (New Jersey) and Fifth Season (Pennsylvania) are pioneers in vertical farming. The growers will serve as initial pilot partners in support of the USDA-funded project that aims to transform the controlled environment agriculture (CEA) market sector toward more efficient production through coordinated research on energy and water practices spearheaded by RII and the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE).

“We are thrilled to unite with these category leaders in the name of innovation and agricultural resilience,” say Derek Smith, Executive Director of RII. “Working together with these initial pilot partners and others to follow, we can unlock basic knowledge about performance metrics that will serve as beacons of efficiency and productivity for CEA producers globally.”

In addition to geographic diversity, the producers represent an expanding global market growing a range of crops in indoor environments, from microgreens to tomatoes to berries.

“The indoor agriculture industry has a shared vision of bringing consumers fresher and safer food that’s grown with less land, water, and energy,” says Grant Vandenbussche, Chief Category Officer of Fifth Season. “Our partnership with USDA and Resource Innovation Institute is providing growers like Fifth Season with critical benchmarking and insights that will allow us to maximize our resource efficiency and sustainability.”

Revol Greens CFO Tom Thompson echoed those thoughts.

“At Revol Greens, our mission is to grow a fresher, safer, more nutritious product for our consumers.  Sustainability and our impact on the plant is as important to our team as profitability and growth,” Thompson says. “Measuring all aspects of our progress towards minimizing our footprint is at the core of this, and we are honored to be affiliated with Resource Innovation Institute and the USDA on this pilot to achieve these goals.”

Resource Innovation Institute’s PowerScore resource benchmarking platform enables CEA producers to confidentially validate their innovative practices. Using standardized key performance indicators, PowerScore helps producers gain powerful insights into their operational performance while protecting strategic business interests.

“RII is trusted throughout the supply chain to provide data analysis and peer-reviewed guidance to producers, vendors, governments, and utilities,” Smith says. “Our consortium of members and partners are committed to collaboratively study the most sustainable horticultural practices across climate zones, building types, technologies, and techniques to guide decision-makers on how to advance agricultural resilience.”

“AppHarvest’s mission to build a resilient food system is based on leveraging data-driven technology including AI to produce significantly higher volumes of fruits and vegetables using drastically fewer resources, and this USDA-funded study with Resource Innovation Institute is a fantastic opportunity to continue to learn how to optimize growing conditions to be as efficient as possible,” says Jonathan Webb, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of AppHarvest.

To ensure the highest level of PowerScore data protection, RII has engaged Management Science Associates (MSA), global leaders in data security and analytics, with expertise in HIPAA compliance and benchmarking for associations across industries. Together with producers, investors, and supply chain partners, RII continues to develop protocols that clearly define access, use and ownership of data.

Source and Photo Courtesy of Greenhouse Grower

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