- Innovative Technology: Sky Greens Canada offers a patented rotating vertical farming system that allows for uniform sunlight, irrigation, airflow, and nutrient distribution, making it highly efficient and sustainable.
- Focus on Sustainability: The company aims to minimize environmental impact by using natural sunlight and a unique hydraulic water-driven rotation system and recycling water through an enclosed reservoir system.
- Skeptical of Controlled Environments: CEO Bob Holm emphasizes that Sky Greens is “farming systems focused” and is cautious about fully controlled environments, advocating instead for letting natural elements like sunlight into the growing process.
- Global Reach with Local Focus: While the company has international partnerships, its primary goal is to increase local food production in Canada to reduce reliance on imports.
- Human-Centric Approach: Despite the rise of AI and machine learning in agriculture, Sky Greens believes that skilled human labor remains crucial for successful farming and should be adequately compensated.
We recently sat with Bob Holm, CEO of Sky Greens Canada (website), 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 by offering intelligent, space-saving, rotating growing solutions. They aim to address food security challenges in Canada and worldwide, where many fresh fruits and vegetables are imported. By providing efficient vertical farming technology, they aim to increase local food production and reduce dependence on imported resources. Sky Greens Canada aims 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. The patented system comprises rotating tiers of growing troughs mounted on an A-frame aluminum structure. It ensures uniform sunlight, irrigation, airflow, and nutrient distribution to the plants as they move through the structure. The system offers high yield, high quality, and flexibility to grow different crops and media. It is energy-efficient, using natural sunlight and a unique hydraulic water-driven rotation system. The enclosed reservoir system and recycling minimize water use, making it eco-friendly. The system is designed for low maintenance and scalability, making 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?
Bob mentioned that controlled environment growth is a new technology that creates a lot of hype around stocks. However, the success of farms depends on the grower, and everything should be built around them. Although CEA (Controlled Environment Agriculture) has been getting much attention, it is costly compared to traditional vertical farming, which has been a successful practice worldwide for years. Bob emphasized that vertical farming is the art of getting more plants per square foot and has been proven to increase crop yield. Conversely, CEA might not work, so it is essential to focus on vertical farming instead of getting looped into CEA.
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 and take the earth’s free energy.
What do you think about the rise of AI and Machine Learning in agriculture?
It’s a brilliant idea, but I prefer having humans in the field. They can examine the plants, spot any pests, and identify issues that need immediate attention. Humans are the most effective line of defense for plants. Although AI is promising, it’s currently too expensive for most businesses. It’s a new technology and will undoubtedly play a critical role. Still, it isn’t easy to justify the cost in most countries based on today’s business plan and unit economics.
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?
We can grow various greens, herbs, and berries in our system if they are less than 18 inches tall. We can also accommodate taller plants, which would take up more space in the towers. We even have someone growing trees using our system. Additionally, we are capable of growing hydroponically or in the dirt. Our system also produces excellent fodder.
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 work with people in Monaco, Berlin, and the Middle East. Our parent company, Sky Greens Singapore, is backing us up, which is also truly unique. ”
Image provided by Sky Greens