We've asked our GreenTech exhibiting companies to answer questions on how the current Coronavirus pandemic had impacted their business.
About Green Automation
With strong roots in industrial automation, Green Automation is redefining how leafy greens are produced. We design, develop, manufacture, and market fully automated NFT growing systems for commercial hydroponic leafy greens production. Green Automation has introduced two growing systems: One optimized for cut baby leaf production and one for living lettuce (head lettuce) production. The growing systems are highly automated and developed for commercial hydroponic lettuce and herb production for greenhouse operations of 1 acre/0.4 hectare and above. The growing systems are designed to achieve the highest efficiency in the greenhouse, making it possible to complete the entire growing cycle without the touch of a human hand.
The Green Automation systems include a range of patented innovations. Our open gutter system, allowing for continuous seeding and eliminating transplanting needs, is one example of how we are re-engineering growing processes. By re-engineering processes and controlling relevant variables with precision, we are creating a reliable, stable, and predictable production of leafy greens.
Source: Green Automation
What is the biggest challenge (in which part of the chain) for your company, during this pandemic?
As a company headquartered in Finland, but with active projects around the world, the travel restrictions have had an immediate impact on our company. Installations of our growing systems are supervised by members of the Green Automation team on site. Most team members are based in Finland with only a limited number of members in the US. As flights between Europe and the US were cancelled, we had to come up with quick solutions for one of our installations in the USA. Adjusting to changing situations is nothing new to us, and in a short period of time we were able to significantly build up the US-based team and have stepped up our remote supervision capabilities.
How do you expect this current crisis will change your sector for the long term?
Our vision is to make fresh, sustainable, and locally grown leafy greens the new normal. There has already been a growing trend toward an increased demand for safe and locally grown leafy greens. We believe that the effects of the pandemic are further strengthening the movement toward indoor growing in the safe and controlled environment of a greenhouse. Increased food safety is one driving force. The low water consumption and the possibility to grow without any chemical pesticides are two other very strong arguments for controlled environment agriculture. We believe that the current crisis will strengthen the local food system in the long run. The situation has given local food production businesses the opportunity to show their agility and resourcefulness. Being able to reliably provide grocery stores with high quality, fresh, and locally grown produce during a situation such as the COVID-19 has reinforced the advantages of greenhouse-grown products and will contribute to increasing the number of greenhouse operations in the future.
What is the silver lining for either your company or the sector?
Our automated growing systems addresses two of the challenges the leafy greens industry is dealing with today; labour shortages and food safety. The fully automated growing system eliminates the need for all labour-intense manual processing steps during the growing cycle. Food safety has already been high on everyone’s priority list. The COVID-19 virus has taught us not to touch anything. Our fully automated growing system has been hands-free from the start. It was designed mainly with labour efficiency in mind. The fact that no one touches the lettuce during the entire growing process is now more relevant than ever.