Israel: Future Crops to bring herbs closer to consumers
The progression from open field growing to greenhouses has brought with it tighter management of variables. Now, Future Crops, an Israeli company, has a working prototype of a completely closed-environment, multi-layered growing sites that they plan to roll out across Europe, bringing fresh herbs closer to retailers and customers.
“With the conventional way of growing herbs, you lose between three to five days when transporting the herbs to supermarkets,” said Avi Bar of Future Crops. “We want to cut down the time between harvesting and supermarket to under 24 hours.” The way to do that, explained Avi Bar, is growing locally by deploying a series of growing sites throughout Europe that are close to major markets. The sites would be completely closed off and all inputs, from growing substrate to water, nutrients and even light, would be provided without the aid of the outside world. The aim is to make the location of the site irrelevant to what can be produced.
“By creating controlled and optimized growing conditions, from seeds to final plant, the risk of diseases and other issues is zero, hence no pesticides are applied, and our herbs are stronger, healthier, with better aroma and crispiness and safer than any product available in the market”, says Avi Bar.
“It's like something from science fiction,” explained Avi Bar. “There's nothing inside the structure except for a nursery, several layers of beds with plants growing on them, an automated packing line which can pack any retail packaging, and a computer that controls everything.” The space-saving multi-layer aspect of the design enhances the kinds of yields the growing structure can achieve, and the automatic nature of the design saves on labour costs, not to mention reducing quality issues which are a result of the worker's handling.
For now, Avi Bar said, they're working on partnerships with the main service providers to the biggest retailers in Europe to build the structures close to the main markets, first in Europe and then throughout the rest of the world. He hopes to have the first structure built this year.
“It's a closed and controlled environment,” said Avi Bar, “so, in principle, we can grow herbs of a uniform quality and quantity in any conditions, guaranteeing supply 365 days a year.”
Publication date: 2/9/2015
Author: Sander Bruins Slot