Tag: vertical farming

AgHires Post The Great Regret

How to Navigate Hiring During the Great Regret

Over the last couple of years, the labor market has fluctuated drastically, and every industry is feeling that rollercoaster ride, including the indoor agriculture industry. It’s tough trying to find quality candidates that are willing to make the jump to a new organization. While not too long ago it seemed as if everyone was jumping ship from their current employer, however, many contributing factors are now causing job seekers to be more cautious.

The Great Regret

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a new quit rate record was made in November and December 2021, rising to 3%, in what has been called the Great Resignation. Just like any trend, the great resignation has ended. However, now it has taken a turn. New studies show that those who have acted impulsively to quit their jobs are now regretting their decision, about 1 and 4 people who have quit their job in the last year have regrets. While over 40% of those who left for a new opportunity say their new job is not living up to their expectations.

These candidates may have learned to take their time when considering quitting their job, and now are being extra cautious. Since many candidates have just left a job, they’re not likely ready to leave another, which is going to make the talent pool smaller. They are also going to take their time finding a new job that checks all their boxes. While, hopefully, they’ve learned to consider all the possibilities when it comes to finding a new job, it does slow down the hiring process.

Bystanders of the Great Resignation

Those employees that did not participate in the Great Resignation, watched their coworkers, friends, and family quit their jobs. Many of them may have been envious but didn’t want to take the plunge. However, now they are watching them regret their decisions. This is causing these candidates to approach a new opportunity with caution. They don’t want to take a leap and regret their choice. They feel safer staying put.

Recession Concerns

The looming recession is also causing candidates to hesitate. While we may have hoped the economy would have leveled out after 2 years of disruption due to the Covid-19 pandemic, other factors have dashed those hopes. While experts are divided on the probability, many people have concerns that a recession is in our immediate future.

With the possibility looming, candidates are not going to act impulsively. Instead, they are going to carefully weigh the risks and rewards of changing jobs. They will consider if the agribusiness or indoor farm will be a stable opportunity. Is there a possibility of layoffs, could the company close, or will they still have an income if the recession comes? Is the company culture a better fit than where they are currently employed? Is there a pay increase and is it worth the risk?

How to Hire During the Great Regret

With so much hesitation from candidates, it’s making it difficult to find quality candidates in the controlled environment agriculture industry. In today’s job market, finding candidates for your open positions feels like an uphill battle. We’re finding that job seekers are applying to roles but are taking extra caution with which role they will move forward with. So, how can you fill your current openings when everyone is afraid to move?

Train the Right Person

If it’s a struggle to find candidates willing to take the leap for a new job consider hiring outside of the industry or hiring more junior employees, and spend some extra time training. Ensuring that your training is efficient and effective will allow you to bring new hires up to speed quickly and keep your agribusiness or indoor farm competitive in the market.

Also, look within your current team and promote from within. You might already have the right person for the job with some extra training. Training is sharing knowledge and teaching employees to perform their best. It may seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be complicated.

Look for Inherent Traits

Remember, it’s not always what is on the resume that is important. Yes, you want your employees to have the skills and know-how to do a job, but you also want a candidate that fits your company’s culture. Their resume doesn’t show you what their work ethic is like or if their personality will mesh well with your team.

Finding the right people with the right attitude can make all the difference in your hiring strategy. In ag, we want candidates that have a strong work ethic, are passionate about their work and have the energy and enthusiasm required to do the job. Other industries also attract those candidates, such as the military and construction industry. They also have skills that can easily translate into the agriculture industry.

It’s All About Your Culture

Your organization’s culture is ultimately what will attract quality candidates to your indoor farm or agribusiness. Today’s candidates want to know what it’s like to work with your team on a daily basis and if will they fit in with the environment. Filling your team with employees that have similar values, behaviors, and communication styles will help your team and indoor ag business be successful.

Showcase your culture in your job descriptions and during interviews. Don’t just tell them what it’s like to work at the organization but give them examples, so they can gauge for themselves. Use the language in your job descriptions to attract the type of candidates you want. Avoid buzzwords that have lost their meaning, like “we’re a family” or “fast-paced environment”. Instead, use real examples from your indoor farm or agribusiness to showcase your culture.  Adding something like, “Sundays off to encourage a healthy work-life balance” or “company events to encourage comradery.”  Mentioning certain benefits such as “paid paternity time off for expectant mothers and/or fathers” is a great idea to show what you’re all about.

Go beyond just the compensation and insurance benefits. Do you offer opportunities for continuous learning? Do you have a rewards program or offer bonuses? Do you go beyond the industry standard with any of your benefits? Do you offer any flexibility in the off-season? Any range of benefits showcases how an organization treats its employees.

Conclusion

It’s a challenging time to hire agricultural candidates with so many factors for them to consider. While it can be challenging, there are ways to work through the obstacles and find quality employees to fill your team. It will take more work to publicize your job openings and reach out to candidates to attract them to your indoor farm or agribusiness.

Hiring can be tough, but AgHires is here to help you attract and find THE hire for your vertical farming and controlled environment agriculture organization. We are an industry-leading ag recruitment agency and job advertising company. We have an extensive network to help with everything from job advertising to full-service recruiting for your ag professional level and executive level positions. Contact us today to get started showcasing your indoor ag business.

Lori Culler AgHiresSpecial thanks to Lori Culler for this post.

Indoor Ag-Con 2023 speaker Lori (Lennard) Culler is the founder of AgHires, an online job board and recruiting firm dedicated to the Agriculture, Horticulture, and Food Production industry. AgHires offers job advertising, candidate sourcing, and full-service recruitment solutions for farms and agribusinesses across the U.S. and Canada.   Lori grew up on her family’s 3rd generation potato, tomato, and grain farm operating today across four states. After graduating from the University of Toledo with a bachelor’s degree in Human Resource Management, she began working in human resources in both recruiting and management consulting. While hiring for her family’s operation, she quickly realized the lack of resources in the industry to find and attract talent which inspired her to launch AgHires.

CEA Summit East

Indoor Ag-Con, CEA Innovation Center Partner To Launch CEA Summit East

NEW CEA TRADE EVENT TO BRING INDUSTRY, ACADEMIA TOGETHER
OCTOBER 25-26, 2022 IN DANVILLE, VA

DANVILLE, VA (July 28,2022)Indoor Ag-Con and the Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) Innovation Center — a joint project of the School of Plant and Environmental Sciences at Virginia Tech and the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR) — have partnered to launch the CEA Summit East, October 25-26, 2022. Designed to bring the CEA industry and academia together to share research, business strategies and build partnerships to drive future growth for the sector and its stakeholders, the event will debut at the IALR Conference Center in Danville, VA.

During the one and one-half day event, industry members will have the opportunity to attend the conference featuring CEA thought leaders, researchers and experts leading keynotes, panels, and breakout sessions; explore tabletop exhibits presenting the latest CEA innovations and services; and enjoy a host of networking opportunities ranging from meals and coffee breaks to an evening social event.

THE TEAM
The event hosts are especially qualified to bring the CEA industry and academia together for an event focused on business, educational and networking growth opportunities.

 

Virginia Tech and IALR

 

The Controlled Environment Agriculture Innovation Center is a joint project between the School of Plant and Environmental Sciences at Virginia Tech and the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR). Housed primarily within a modern indoor agricultural complex on the campus of IALR in Danville, the center features various hydroponic and soilless systems/production systems and facilities, including indoor growth rooms, greenhouses, growth chambers and vertical growing racks.  The center’s scientists and technology teams are currently working closely with the industry’s top growers and suppliers on a number of key projects. Learn more at www.ialr.org/cea.

Indoor Ag-Con

The Indoor Ag-Con team of seasoned event professionals produces the premier trade show & conference for indoor |vertical farming | controlled environment agriculture.  Experiencing record year-on-year growth, its events touch all sectors of the business — covering produce, legal cannabis |hemp, alternate protein and non-food crops – and attract decision-making growers, investors, real estate developers, agtech leaders, produce buyers, academics, policymakers, industry suppliers and advocates from across the US and 20+ other countries.

THE AUDIENCE
The CEA Summit East is custom-tailored for new and well-seasoned CEA industry members from throughout the Eastern US, including indoor and greenhouse growers, facility owners and operators, educators, government officials, real estate developers, architects, construction specialists, sales and marketing teams and others.

The event will include tabletop displays from manufacturers and suppliers of AI and automation, control systems, sensors, equipment/accessories, greenhouse structures/supplies, lighting, irrigation, HVAC and more.

THE VENUE
Part of the IALR campus, the Institute Conference Center is a full service, state-of-the-art meeting facility – just steps away from Controlled Environment Agriculture Innovation Center’s modern indoor agricultural complex.   What’s more, the Danville, VA venue is easily accessible — located in south-central Virginia along the North Carolina border, within a day’s drive of two-thirds of the nation’s population.

“From the incredible work researchers are doing at its Innovation Center to its state-of-the-art meeting venue, IALR is such a rich resource for the CEA industry,” says Brian Sullivan, CEO, Indoor Ag-Con. “We’re excited to bring our event experience and industry resources together with the expertise of IALR and Virginia Tech to create a showplace of innovation and educational opportunities for growers and other CEA industry members throughout the Eastern US.”

“This partnership between IALR and Virginia Tech has brought together diverse professionals from industry and academia including many people not traditionally working directly in controlled environment agriculture,” states Dr. Michael Evans, Director of the School of Plant and Environmental Sciences at Virginia Tech.

“This conference offers an exciting opportunity to bring people together for exchanging new and diverse ideas to help move the industry forward and into exciting directions,” says Dr. Kaylee South, Assistant Professor in the School of Plant and Environmental Sciences at Virginia Tech.

“By developing strategic partnerships with both industry and academia, the goal of the Innovation Center is to conduct research and educational programming to develop, promote and advance the controlled environment agriculture sector,” adds Dr. Scott Lowman, Director, Controlled Environment Agriculture Innovation Center.  “The new partnership with Indoor Ag-Con perfectly aligns with our goal and promises to deliver a top-notch event experience for CEA industry stakeholders.”

For more information on the CEA Summit East, including conference programming, exhibit/sponsorship opportunities and to register, visit www.ceasummit.com.

ABOUT INDOOR AG-CON
Founded in 2013, Indoor Ag-Con has emerged as the premier trade event for indoor | vertical farming | controlled environment agriculture, the practice of growing crops in indoor systems, using hydroponic, aquaponic and aeroponic techniques. Its events are crop-agnostic and touch all sectors of the business, covering produce, legal cannabis |hemp, alternate protein and non-food crops. More information – www.indoor.ag | 404.991.5186

ABOUT THE SCHOOL OF PLANT AND ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES AT VIRGINIA TECH
The School of Plant and Environmental Sciences at Virginia Tech trains the next generation of professionals in the fields of plant breeding and genetics, agronomic and horticultural crop production, plant protection, soil and water systems management, agricultural technologies, environmental restoration and agro-environmental stewardship.  It conducts research to improve agricultural productivity, reduce negative impacts on the environment and improve soil and water health.  Through extension programs, it provides science-based information to stakeholders to help them feed the world while protecting the environment.  More information — https://spes.vt.edu/

ABOUT IALR
The Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR) serves as a regional catalyst for economic transformation. Core focus areas include research that provides a clear path to commercialization, advanced learning opportunities where education meets experience, training and rapid-launch space for advanced manufacturers, and economic development through conferencing and a partnership with the Southern Virginia Regional Alliance. It is located in scenic and historic Danville-Pittsylvania County on the VA/NC state line, within a short drive of Roanoke, Greensboro and Raleigh.  More information –  www.ialr.org | 413.766.6700

 

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Netled CEO Niko Kivioja

‘Any Step Closer to Climate Neutrality Is An Important One’ | Q&A With Netled CEO Niko Kivioja   

Netled_IndoorAgContentVertical farming technology provider Netled and its client, Swedish herb supplier OMG (Oh My Greens), recently launched the first industrial-scale vertical farm delivering Climate Neutral Certified herbs from seed to shelf.  Indoor Ag-Con had the chance to catch up with Netled CEO Niko Kivioja to learn more about this exciting project, why it’s so important, and what’s on the horizon for this innovative company in this month’s CEO Q&A.

Why did OMG Choose Netled’s VERA® Technology for its new industrial scale vertical farm?

Swedish herb supplier OMG (Oh My Greens) produces 2.7 million heads of herbs annually for ICA, the leading grocery retailer in Sweden. Building a major facility with that kind of production capacity is very complex. OMG needed a technology provider who truly understands the technology and also has the experience and project delivery capabilities to carry out a project of that scale.

Oh My Greens industrial scale facility.indooragcontentWe call ourselves the one-stop shop for vertical farming, which means that on top of our proprietary Vera® technology we offer all services and support needed to build a commercially viable vertical farming business. This means we provide our customers with the design and planning of their facility, we ship the equipment, and we build, install and commission the farm. We support our customers in getting their farm up to production volumes. We also provide a five-year maintenance agreement to ensure the technology performs optimally.

It can be challenging to combine technology and services from different companies and ensure they work smoothly together. Plus you have to manage the various companies involved in the project. With Netled, you get the entire package under one roof. It’s simpler for the customer because all the various bits and pieces you need to build an industrial-scale vertical farm work seamlessly together. In a facility the size of the OMG project, those bits and pieces amount to around 120 000. So it’s no small feat.

OMG really did their homework in selecting a vertical farming partner. They will tell you themselves that they looked at 17 different providers before choosing Netled. They said that we are years ahead of the competition in terms of technology, know-how, and delivery capabilities. We are honored by that recognition.

What attracted you/Netled to the OMG project

OMG has the same level of ambition as we do: they want to succeed at vertical farming at an industrial scale and continue to grow from there. Our Vera® vertical farming technology is designed in a way that it’s scalable according to the customers’ needs and business case. The size and ambition of OMG’s project was perfect for our technology and service offerings. The growing area is about 25 800 square feet (2400 m2), and it is a big difference to make the automation work smoothly in that volume compared to smaller units.

Oh My Greens Vera vertical farm 2.indooragcontent
Photo Credit: ICA

We are also impressed by the fact that OMG’s customer is ICA, the largest retailer in Sweden. It is a very important step for us that such a significant player in the food retail industry takes a step towards vertically farmed products and sells them under their private label. Like us, they want to be at the forefront of developing a sustainable food system for the future.

We are very happy to see this development happening with big players like ICA, and we think it’s a good sign for the entire CEA industry. Vertically farmed produce is becoming more and more mainstream, and consumers will soon learn more about the benefits of this production method. Netled carried out consumer research this spring, and we found that only 11 % of Finnish consumers really knew what vertical farming was about. However, 95 % of the respondents were willing to buy vertically farmed products after learning more about the production method and its benefits.

It is clear that when major retailers incorporate vertically farmed products into their own store brand, it will open new conversations for us as technology providers.

The farm is described as the ‘first vertical farm in the world delivering Climate Neutral Certified herbs from seed to shelf.’  Can you share more about this designation and why it’s so important.

Oh My Greens Vera vertical farm.IndoorAgContent
Photo Credit: ICA

We are all in this battle against climate change together, and any step closer to climate neutrality is an important one for both OMG and Netled.

OMG is the first vertical cultivation in the world to deliver Climate Neutral Certified herbs following the Climate Neutral Certification programme. The owner of the standard is The Climate Neutral Group, a member of ICROA, the International Carbon Reduction & Offsetting Alliance. They follow strict criteria in terms of Verified Emission Reductions (VERs), and verification is carried out by independent, internationally recognized agencies.

Within this certificate, climate neutrality means both CO2 footprint reduction and compensation. OMG calculates their emissions footprint on a granular level including ingredients, storage, production, packaging, mobility, and upstream and downstream logistics until the products reach the shelf. The facility is built in an old steel factory and it operates with renewable energy: wind power. The remaining CO2 emissions are compensated by supporting an NGO’s agroforestry project of 214 hectares in India. The ultimate goal is to reduce the emissions every year until they reach a 0-emission supply chain.

Netled_WEB_4.indooragcontentNetled’s Vera® technology is designed to be as energy and resource-efficient as possible using up to 70% less energy and up to 95% less water than traditional indoor agriculture. It also allows customers to grow 2.5 times more crops in the same amount of space as greenhouse growing.

OMG’s vision is a world where food production is truly sustainable, and we as their technology provider are working towards the same goal. We are constantly striving to reduce emissions and this will be a work in progress as we develop our technology and processes.

What’s next for Netled – any other projects of this scale or other developments on the horizon?

We recently opened our first North American Vera® vertical farm as part of the launch of Netled North America in Calgary, Canada. The vertical farm in Calgary is a showcase facility for North American customers who want to see our Vera® technology firsthand. The demo unit features the same Vera® technology, but on a smaller scale. It will allow potential customers to see the technology up close and discuss their requirements with our experienced team in Calgary.

Netled_WEB_3.indooragcontentIn terms of other projects, we have just finished commissioning a compact-size Vera® farm in Poland, and we are currently building another industrial-scale facility in the Nordics. We are in the negotiating phase with other clients on some very exciting commercial-scale projects in Europe and North America, stay tuned for more details!

Learn more about Netled by visiting the company’s website — www.netled.fi

Katie Seawell Bowery Farming

Resiliency, Sustainability, Smart Farms: Q & A With Bowery Farming CCO Katie Seawell

Bowery FarmingFrom the recent opening of its largest, most technologically advanced sustainable commercial smart farm in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania to its expansion into fruiting and vine crops with the launch of new strawberry varieties , Bowery Farming has been making a lot of headlines lately.

Indoor Ag-Con had the opportunity to catch up with Katie Seawell, Chief Commercial Officer (CCO) of the largest vertical farming company in the U.S, to get her thoughts on CEA industry trends and learn more about Bowery’s innovations, programs and mission to grow food smarter, sustainably, for more people, in more places.

What trend(s) are you seeing as it relates to how/why retailers are investing in CEA?

Investment in CEA comes down to two words: resiliency and sustainability. The past two years have made it painfully clear that climate change, global events, and supply chain disruption all have an enormous impact on our food systems. We need resiliency now more than ever before. By growing indoors, 365 days a year, with zero impact from drought, wildfires, or extreme temperatures, Bowery is growing a resilient supply of pesticide-free produce. And not only resilient, but predictable and reliable—we know, and therefore retailers know, exactly how much produce to expect, which cuts down on food waste.

Retailers and consumers are knowledgeable about where food comes from, and are investing in CEA for its sustainability practices. Bowery farms are powered 100% by renewable energy and cut down food miles drastically.

A product that is both good for the planet and more reliable is a powerful investment for retailers.

Can you share details around Bowery’s new partnership with the Nature Conservancy and what you hope to achieve through that relationship?

Bowery and Nature Conservancy Partnership

Bowery partnered with The Nature Conservancy to spread the word about #Rewilding—a movement committed to restoring degraded farmland and forests. A pack takeover during Earth Month and beyond included a QR code, available in over 1,000 grocery stores, to connect customers to information on actionable sustainability and restoration efforts, such as supporting The Nature Conservancy’s ‘Plant a Billion Trees’ campaign.

In addition to pledging to restore 50 acres in the U.S., in partnership with The Nature Conservancy, Bowery sought to raise awareness about Rewilding, and spotlight what is possible when we give Mother Earth a break – allowing land to ‘Rewild’. Our packs featured cutouts of six animals, such as the Louisiana Black Bear, which was recently delisted as an endangered species thanks to conservation efforts.

The missions of Bowery and TNC meet in this partnership, as Rewilding and indoor vertical farming are both part of the solution to address global challenges from climate change to ecosystem biodiversity to feeding growing populations. When we grow inside, we can restore outside.

Congrats on the recent opening of your newest farm in Bethlehem, PA. It’s described as Bowery’s largest, most technologically advanced & sustainable commercial smart farm. Can you share why you chose the Bethlehem site and how this newest farm fits into Bowery’s growth strategy?

Bowery Bethlehem PABethlehem represents the next chapter in climate-smart agriculture at Bowery. The Bethlehem Farm, once a non-arable industrial site, is now modern farmland. This transformation from brownfield to vertical farm means that fresh, healthy food is now being grown, year-round, where it was previously thought no food would ever grow again.

This commercial farm is also a blueprint for Bowery. It features a replicable system that will allow us to grow food wherever and whenever it is needed. The farm is powered with 100% renewable energy and features 15% more efficient LED lighting. Bowery’s Bethlehem Farm will bring fresh produce to a population of 50-million people within a 200-mile radius.

We chose Bethlehem for several reasons: to meet regional demand for pesticide-free, local produce grown sustainably; to further our mission of democratizing access to reliable, healthy produce; and to help fight the climate crisis by building resilient regional food systems on previously non-arable land. What was once the flagship site of the Bethlehem Steel Corporation is now, in part, a modern farm that will help feed the community.

Tell us a little more about aGirlculture, the women’s development network you co-founded at Bowery and serve as the group’s executive sponsor.

AGIRLCulture at Bowery FarmingOver the course of my career, so many talented women leaders helped shape and inspire my path. I wouldn’t be where I am today without their encouragement and support. This background, where women fiercely support one another, led me to co-found aGirlculture at Bowery. The group brings together women of all levels to connect with peers and senior leaders. We’re creating a space for mentorship and other opportunities for personal and professional growth.

Our programming has included guest speakers, roundtable discussions, International Women’s Day celebrations, and more. During the height of the pandemic, we moved forward with our programming over Zoom.

It’s been very rewarding to build a space where rich discussions can happen, where we can dig into culturally relevant topics for women and lay the foundation for women to advocate for each other. And we’re just getting started.

Before joining Bowery, you were with Starbucks where you held a number of senior leadership roles in branding, marketing and product development. Can you share any lessons learned or challenges from your time at Starbucks that have helped you in your role at Bowery?

Two main lessons learned come to mind. First, Starbucks instilled in me a deep belief that we are all stewards of our planet, and that it is our responsibility to care for the environment to the best of our ability. This value led me to Bowery and guides the urgency I feel when it comes to our sustainability goals.

Second, my time at Starbucks taught me that the private sector cannot be a bystander when it comes to the challenges of climate change. Businesses need to put full weight and resources behind sustainability to be part of the solution to the climate crisis. By making responsible decisions to build sustainable models, we can solve really hard problems.

What’s next for Bowery?

Bethlehem Farm Bowery FarmingThe Bethlehem Farm, our Smart Farm of the Future, is a model for what’s next at Bowery. We have two additional farms under construction in Locust Grove, Georgia and Arlington, Texas and we’re on track to double our number of farms by 2023, with the goal of helping to alleviate the strains insecurity puts on the U.S. food supply and economy.

We’re also committed to innovation: our R&D team is continuing the diversification of our pesticide-free produce portfolio, unlocking new possibilities and flavors in food. This includes more SKUs in addition to leafy greens and herbs, such as strawberries and other fruiting and vine crops.

We envision a Bowery smart farm in every city in the U.S. and ultimately the entire world, and we’re on the growth trajectory to achieve just that.

For more information, visit the Bowery website — https://boweryfarming.com/

Record Attendance Growth, New Business Connections Headline 2022 Edition of Indoor Ag-Con Las Vegas

82% Increase Over 2021 Representing Attendees From 48 States/Territories, 20+ Countries, Growing Number of C-Suite Execs

(March 4, 2022) –  Just four months after its covid-delayed October 2021 edition in Orlando, the Indoor Ag-Con trade show & conference welcomed the indoor|vertical farming and controlled environment agriculture (CEA) industry back for its February 28-March 1, 2022 run at Caesar Forum Las Vegas.  And what a welcome it was.  Marking an 82 percent increase over the Orlando attendance figure, 800 + growers, suppliers, start-ups and other industry members attended from 48 states/territories and more than 20 countries, including a high number of c-suite executives. Bolstering the figure further, nearly 300 attendees from The National Grocers Association (NGA) Show, co-located at Caesars Forum, also visited the show, taking the total attendance figure over 1100.

The Indoor Ag-Con Expo Floor also grew by 60 percent – from 50 booths in 2021 to 80 in 2022 – filled with the latest innovations in irrigation, control systems, lighting, substrates and more. Rounding out the show statistics, the 2022 edition’s educational conference brought together 77 speakers participating in 21 panel discussions and 3 CEO keynote sessions.

“From our sold-out show floor and record-breaking attendance to reports of game-changing connections and new relationships forged, we’ve been humbled by the positive feedback we’re received for our 2022 show from exhibitors and attendees alike,” says Brian Sullivan, CEO, Indoor Ag-Con.  “Our show theme, ‘growing your business,’ truly came to life here in Las Vegas this week. The CEA industry is growing quickly and we are proud to provide the platform for the education, networking and innovations showplace needed to take it to the next level.”

“We are also excited about the untapped networking potential that exists between Indoor Ag-Con and The NGA Show,” adds Nancy Hallberg, owner | partner, Indoor Ag-Con.  “This first co-location was exploratory and gave both show teams the opportunity to start identifying ways we can really bring grocers and growers together. We think the 2 shows offer untapped business growth opportunities for our respective audiences and look forward to delivering on that when we come together again in 2023.”

Among the many highlights of the show included:

Indoor Ag-Con Signify 2022 PartyIndoor Ag-Con | Signify VIP Welcome Party
Signify teamed up with Indoor Ag-Con to tee-up the 2022 edition with a VIP Welcome Party on Sunday evening, February 27 at Topgolf Las Vegas.  Indoor Ag-Con speakers and other industry VIPs came together for an incredible evening of golf, networking, cocktails, food, music and fun with industry friends – compliments of Signify.

CEO Keynote SessionsIndoor Ag-Con BrightFarms 2022
Attendees had the chance to hear from executives from the industry’s top operators.  Steve Platt, CEO, BrightFarms and Steven Bradley, Vice President of Cox CleanTech, Cox Enterprises, kicked off the conference on Monday morning, February 28.  Later that day Jonathan Webb, CEO, AppHarvest took the stage.  On day two, Matt Ryan, CEO, Soli Organic (formerly Shenandoah Growers) started the day with the morning keynote address.

Indoor Ag-Con Workforce Development 2022Educational Tracks & Expo Floor Theater Panel Discussions
The 2022 edition featured 3 educational tracks – Grower, Business & Technology – that brought industry experts together covering a  wide range of topics from lighting specs and substrates to energy optimization, water technology, fertilizer, workforce development, robotics, automation investing/finance and sensor technology.  In addition, the Expo Floor Theater offered up additional content with sessions on everything from seeds and produce branding to grocer/grower relationship development, why vertical farms succeed and more.

Sold Out Expo Floor
Expanding to 80 booths, this year’s Expo Floor was home to some of the biggest names in CEA as well as up-and-coming suppliers.  From lighting and grow systems to substrates and irrigation, growers were able to see the newest innovations all under one roof.

Networking Opportunities
Daily lunches and an afternoon cocktail reception on the expo floor expanded the show’s networking opportunities.

Looking ahead, Indoor Ag-Con will return to Caesars Forum February 27-28, 2023 and will once again co-locate with The National Grocers Association Show.  

About Indoor Ag-Con
Founded in 2013, Indoor Ag-Con has emerged as the premier trade event for indoor | vertical farming | controlled environment agriculture,  the practice of growing crops in indoor systems, using hydroponic, aquaponic and aeroponic techniques. Its events are crop-agnostic and touch all sectors of the business, covering produce, legal cannabis |hemp, alternate protein and non-food crops. More information is at https://indoor.ag.

Signify Horticulture Team Invites You To Kick Off 2022 Trade Show Season With Indoor Ag-Con

The excitement is building as Signify prepares to gather in Las Vegas for the 2022 Indoor Ag-Con (IAC), the premier trade show and conference encompassing all things related to indoor and vertical farming production. Focused on providing participants with the latest insights of how to optimize a vertical farming operation, the two-day conference is scheduled for February 28th to March 1st at the Caesars Forum, Las Vegas, Nevada.

Meet Signify at Indoor Ag-Con

Interested to learn how you can get a tailored LED lighting solution for your indoor grow facility? Stop by the Signify booth, #2018, where Philips LED lighting and Philips GrowWise Control System will be on display. Learn and see how Philips dynamic production modules give growers full flexibility and control over their lighting. Our team of experts will be available to discuss and advise how you can grow with more precision and profitability when incorporating Philips LED grow lights into your indoor grow facility.

Conference Spotlight: Controlled Environment Agriculture Lighting – Understanding Specs

Does industry jargon on LED lighting seem confusing to you? Then you won’t want to miss the educational session, Controlled Environment Agriculture Lighting, on Monday, February 28th at 10:00 AM PST. During this session, Blake Lange, Signify Business Development Manager for city farming, will be joined by a panel of industry leaders to discuss how to properly understand specs in lighting and what performance metrics to look for when you are ready to transition to LED lighting.

“I’m excited to be part of this educational session. There are several terms and performance metrics that can make the search for new lighting confusing and overwhelming. Participants are sure to find this session a great way to kick off their Indoor Ag-Con experience. Not only will it help them to navigate in a wide array of options from different lighting manufacturers, but it will also empower them to feel confident in their purchasing decisions for vertical farming grow lights,” says Lange.

Visit the Indoor Ag-Con website to register for the conference.

XtremeLUX and Triple Ring Technologies Announce Collaborative Solution to the Biggest Problems Hampering Indoor Ag

Advanced spectrally-controlled lighting and biotech will combine to push indoor agriculture past the goal of economic sustainability.

 

XtremeLUX, a designer and supplier of advanced lighting systems for indoor farming, and Triple Ring Technologies, a co-development firm that helps innovators and entrepreneurs develop science-based technologies for a broad range of markets, will introduce at the Indoor Ag-Con Conference on Feb 28 in Las Vegas, an advanced solution for optimizing energy usage and for helping growers to creatively solve their biggest biotechnical problems. The heart of the technology is the customization of spectral inputs to the particular species and lifecycle stage of the plant; dramatically reducing energy usage, improving yield and quality, and enabling industry-sustaining economic benefits. Extreme spectrum control and integrated sensors provide extra tools for attacking pathogens, repelling bugs, detecting malnourishment, and solving many other problems.

Silicon Valley-based Triple Ring Technologies, is pleased to support XtremeLUX, including the exhibition of their technology at Indoor Ag-Con. “Triple Ring is excited about the potential for the XtremeLUX system and advanced spectral control to support the scaling of vertical farming,” said Joe Weber, Vice President for Strategic Markets at Triple Ring. “Our experience developing technology and products involving photonics, sensors, and complex systems in a broad range of markets including in the ag tech world have positioned us well to support startups such as XtremeLUX.” he continued.

“XtremeLUX is very thrilled to be exhibiting our fourth generation of products at Indoor Ag-Con this year. As we grow our partnerships in the vertical farming space and advance our product line, we are looking forward to enhancing the role of CEA in global agriculture.” said Chiamin Cheng, CEO of XtremeLUX.

About XtremeLUX

Founded in 2011, XtremeLUX has developed an innovative system of controlled lighting for the vertical farming and cannabis industries.  Based on their adaptive spectrum control capability, their systems have been adopted to great benefit by large-scale leafy green and cannabis growers and by researchers. XtremeLUX’s open lighting control interface is designed to be interoperable with industry-standard communication protocols, including Modbus, MQTT, and USB-to-I2C, for easy integration with previously installed climate control, power management, fertigation, and other systems.

About Triple Ring Technologies

Triple Ring Technologies is a co-development company headquartered in Silicon Valley, with offices in Boston, Toronto, and Copenhagen. They partner with clients in medtech, life sciences, and sustainability & the environment to create new technologies, launch innovative projects, and start new ventures. Their capabilities span early R&D, product development, manufacturing, regulatory approval, market access, strategic investment, and incubation. For more information, please visit www.tripleringtech.com.

Contact for XtremeLUX:  Chiamin Cheng, chiamin.cheng@xtremelux.com.  Contact for Triple Ring Technologies:  Tracy Li, tli@tripleringtech.com.

Niko Kivioja

Netled CEO Niko Kivioja: 5 Reasons Why Grocers Need Vertical Farming Partners

Walmart recently announced a big bang in the US grocery trade landscape: its investment in vertical farming start-up Plenty. With this, the retail giant is taking a step toward making high-quality, pesticide-free produce more accessible and affordable for the consumer.

What do they know that you don’t? Why should every grocer be scouting for vertical farming partners now and not later?

  1. The salad and fresh herb markets are growing

NetledSize does matter, and the size of the market for salad and leafy greens in the U.S. and Canada is approximately $15 billion and growing. And it will continue to grow with an estimated CAGR of 8.2% from 2021 to 2028.

Similar growth is expected in the spice and herb market where in North America alone, it is projected to grow at a CAGR 7.2% (2020 to 2025).

That is a lot of money available for leafy greens, herbs, and spices if you can guarantee your yield and deliveries.

But therein lies the problem.

  1. Food security

VeraThe COVID pandemic has shown us that the logistics involved in food transportation are extremely susceptible to disruption; perishable products in particular cannot be stored for long before the quality deteriorates to such an extent that they are no longer fit for sale.

The majority of the lettuces sold in North America are grown in California. So, if you buy a packaged lettuce in New York, it has probably already traveled 3000 miles. Any disruptions to this journey along the way only serve to weaken the quality of the product and its availability to the end customer.

In fact, over the past year, packaged leafy greens have been one of the top items missing from grocery shelves due to logistics and transportation challenges.

Vertical farming systems like Netled’s proprietary system Vera can ensure the availability of products due to their proximity to the store. A Vera system requires very little space and is significantly more efficient and reliable than traditional agricultural systems.

Vera systems produce:

  • 5 times more crops per comparable growing area
  • 15 times more per surface area compared to single-level high-efficiency year-round greenhouse growing.
  • 100 times more crops per surface area compared to the yield for a normal single season in open-field agriculture.

Vertical farming systems also remove the risks that other forms of agriculture are susceptible to such as unpredictable weather, disease, and pests.

 

  1. Food safety

The more stages there are in the food processing and distribution, the higher the chance of some form of contamination.

Fewer human contact points, precise control over irrigation, and the growing process result in less risk of contamination.

Every year in North America, 48 million foodborne illnesses, 128,000 hospitalizations, and 3000 deaths are recorded. (CDC, 2013).

Bacteria and pathogen contamination in the production line almost always originates from the irrigation water used. Further risk of contamination comes from the washing of field-grown or greenhouse products after they are harvested.

Outdoor farming and most of the greenhouses perform triple-wash on the harvested plants in order to mitigate the contamination risk, as a post-harvest process.

Vera vertical farming systems are encapsulated in a precisely controlled environment where there is no contamination from external sources such as pests, fungi, or bacteria.

The Vera system uses 95% less fresh water for irrigation than open-field agriculture and the water it uses is captured from the plant respiration, purified, and fed back into the system ensuring no possibility of external contamination. The plants are not touched by humans during the growing process and therefore do not need to be washed after harvesting.

Harvesting and packaging can even be automated with robotics so that there is no physical contact with the plant at all.

  1. Labor costs

All this automation not only ensures the minimum possible amount of contamination, but it also reduces labor costs.

Vera vertical farming systems are less labor intensive in both the growing and harvesting processes. The extremely high level of automation in irrigation, plant spacing, nutrient delivery, and lighting requires less labor resources. Harvesting and packing can also be automated to a high level with the help of AI and robotics, and if the vertical farm is situated in close proximity to the store, logistic, and transportation costs are also reduced dramatically.

  1. Quality

Awareness and demand for healthy plant-based foods is growing. Salads are a good source of fiber, iron, calcium, potassium plus vitamins A, K, C, and E.

There are many factors that can affect the quality of the end product, not only in the processing stages of production, but also in the growing stage. Open-field growing is particularly susceptible to risk factors: extreme weather events such as torrential rain and drought, nutrient depletion and salination of the soil and the chemical fertilizers used to attempt to redress the balance, water infiltration rates, pesticides, herbicides, and chemical spraying to name a few.

Vertical farming systems operate in a precisely controlled environment where every last detail is planned, monitored, and controlled from seed to retail. There are no rainy days, no hot days, no pests or chemicals – everything is always just right

The Vera system is programmed according to the particular plant and the variables are adjusted so that it can grow to its own genetic maximum. This results in the highest possible quality with guaranteed results no matter what time of year or whatever the weather.

In case you’d like to learn more about your potential future vertical farming partner, come and meet Netled CEO Niko Kivioja and the rest of the team at Indoor AgCon booth 1023!

Niko Kivioja will also join a panel conversation on Direct Controlled Environment Agriculture Farming in Grocery Stores, Hotels & Restaurants on Monday, Feb 28th at 4:00 pm.

 

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT NETLED AND ITS VERA TECHNOLOGY:

W: NETLED.FI

NETLED VIDEO RESOURCES:

Introduction to Vera vertical farm

Netled featured on Advancements TV Series aired on CNBC

Netled CEO Niko Kivioja interview Vertical Farming Podcast

Netled CEO Niko Kivioja interview Crop Talk Podcast  

Matt Ryan Soli Organic

Organic, Sustainable, Affordable, Accessible: Q&A With Soli Organic CEO Matt Ryan

Soli OrganicIndoor Ag-Con is excited to announce that Soli Organic CEO Matt Ryan has joined our CEO keynote line-up for the February 28-March 1, 2022 edition of Indoor Ag-Con. During his keynote presentation on March 1, 2022, 8 – 8:50 AM, Matt Ryan will share more about his company’s plans to change the world of organic produce by “Bringing Nature Indoors”™ with its soil-based, certified organic biofarms.

Soli Organic, formerly known as Shenandoah Growers, Inc., is the nation’s only soil-based, controlled environment agriculture company delivering 100% USDA certified organic produce to more than 20,000 retail stores nationwide We checked in with Matt ahead of his keynote to learn more about the company’s latest developments and plans for future growth in this month’s CEO Q&A.

Soli Organic
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Given your proven leadership background in branding /marketing with companies like Starbucks and Walt Disney, how did your outside perspective come into play with the Soli rebranding and what do you hope to accomplish with the new branding?

I’m very grateful for the incredible experiences I’ve had leading up to this point in my career and the lessons I’ve learned at each stop proved to be valuable as we went through our re-branding process in 2021. The new branding is a reflection of Soli Organic’s commitment to growing indoors, in real soil, and we’re aiming to convey to consumers the company’s vision to produce fresh products that are organic, sustainable, affordable and accessible to all.

Soli Organic 3Congratulations on the recent news about the $120 financing arrangement with The Decennial Group.  How does this play into your growth plans?

This is a very exciting time for Soli Organic as we continue on a track of accelerating growth to build on our company’s 30-plus year history of strong financial performance. The arrangement with Decennial – one of the largest of its kind for a controlled environment agriculture company – will help to support that growth, providing financing for three new indoor Biofarm facilities that will enable us to continue to scale the growth of our operations and meet the growing demand for fresh, sustainably-grown, organic produce that is affordable.

 

Soli OrganicSpeaking of news, can you also share a little more about the new partnership between Soli Organic and Rutgers University and how you will be working with its plant breeding experts?

Over the next five years, we’ll be working with the world-leading plant breeding experts at Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological Sciences to select and advance the next generation of commercial organic, indoor-grown produce. Specifically, we’ll be analyzing the chemistry of new crop lines to optimize flavor, aroma, nutrition and yield traits for indoor cultivation. The partnership is an example of Soli Organic’s deep commitment to a “biology first, technology to scale” philosophy as we work to provide consumers with great-tasting and affordable organic produce.

Soli OrganicWhat’s next for Soli Organic?

Right now, our focus is on executing against current product timelines and continuing on our growth track to enhance our ability to meet the growing demand for fresh products that are organic, sustainable, affordable and accessible to all. To that end, we have plans in place to build eight new high-tech indoor Biofarm facilities, in addition to the seven farms in operation today. We’re very excited about the future at Soli Organic.

To learn more about Soli Organic, visit the website at www.soliorganic.com 

Agnetix and JARS

Jars, Agnetix Partner For Large-Scale Vertical Farm In Arizona

JARS Cannabis has selected Smart Horticulture Lighting technology leader and Indoor Ag-Con 2022 exhibitor, Agnetix, for a new high-tech vertical farming project in Phoenix, Arizona.

Purpose built for Agnetix lighting, this new state-of-the-art facility will feature over 2000 liquidcooled PHENOM luminaires in a high energy density double-tiered configuration.

JARS Director of Cultivation, Ian Haselmire, spoke about why they were drawn to Agnetix: “JARS began this project with a simple goal: build a highly effective vertical cannabis farm. Vertical growing introduces additional design and operational challenges over single-tiered facilities. We selected the new water-cooled Agnetix PHENOM LEDs for their ability to displace heat before it accumulates inside our tiered benches, maintaining a consistent environment without stagnation and microclimates. The dense array of sensors built into the PHENOM platform further enables us to confirm the effectiveness of our HVAC and supporting equipment, highlighting areas of concern for immediate improvement.”

Dr. Ihor Lys, Agnetix co-founder and CTO, explained: “The Agnetix HMI provides a unique three dimensional view of these sensors, clearly showing the conditions, plants and process in real time. JARS found this capability quite compelling. The PHENOM platform provides unparalleled insight for crop steering, facility management and operational improvement.” Ian continued: “In the short term, this capability speeds commissioning. Every facility goes through
a break-in period, and the faster you can identify areas for improvement the faster you drive the projects’ return on investment.”

For more information about the PHENOM vertical farming lighting systems, visit www.agnetix.com or contact sales@agnetix.com.

About JARS:
Founded in 2020, JARS is a vertically integrated multi-state operator committed to providing the best quality cannabis with the widest variety of options at affordable prices. JARS is a progressive cannabis company that provides a welcoming and uplifting environment for its employees and customers. JARS dispensaries offer an abundance of product choices with knowledgeable staff that can provide insight into customers’ medical and lifestyle needs. Our approach to products, design, and community is helping change the conversation about cannabis in a positive way. In a short amount of time, JARS has built a trusted and powerful brand resulting in rapid growth across multiple states. JARS owns and operates eleven retail locations in Michigan and four retail locations in Arizona, with multiple cultivation and extraction sites in Arizona coming online in early 2022. www.jarscannabis.com

About Agnetix:
Agnetix is a technology company on a steep growth trajectory focused on the development of advanced smart horticultural lighting and information technology solutions for commercial indoor and greenhouse growers – both in fresh produce and cannabis markets. The Agnetix Responsive Agriculture™ platform delivers meaningful plant and energy data insights for quick, informed decisions. The Agnetix system includes highly efficient, water-cooled LED lighting,
environmental sensors, AI (Artificial Intelligence) imagers, data, and real-time monitoring solutions. Agnetix helps serious controlled environment agriculture (CEA) growers to significantly improve their crop yield, reduce their operating cost, reduce their carbon footprint, and run a more profitable business. www.Agnetix.com