TrueHarvest Farms, LLC, a Belton, TX-based controlled environment hydroponic farm specializing in leafy greens, is ramping up its automated lettuce production. The operation has partnered with Green Automation Group out of Finland is proud to employ automation technology in its 50,000 square feet greenhouse.
TrueHarvest Farms is growing fresh head lettuce locally 365 days a year. The farm is strategically located between the cities of Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio, and Austin. With a population of around 20 million, the area is the ideal location for new, innovative, and sustainable production of leafy greens.
“The climate here in Texas makes year-round field growing of leafy greens impossible, and the area has relied heavily on lettuce trucked into the state from California and Arizona for a substantial part of the year”, says Marshall McDaniel, Managing Member at TrueHarvest Farms. “We will be distributing truly fresh, nutritious, safe, and locally grown lettuce to stores within a 250–miles radius of our operations.”
The facility is in the final stage of obtaining PrimusGFS certification and is dedicated to meeting the highest safety standards in the food industry, says Jason Maks, Managing Member and Grower at TrueHarvest Farms.
“We are ramping up our production right now and expect to reach full capacity in January 2020. At the moment we are growing Butterhead, Crisp, and Romaine varieties,” Maks says.
TrueHarvest Farms is using an automated growing system optimized for head lettuce production.
“When growing leafy greens in tough climates, it is imperative to operate with the highest efficiency and generate the highest yields per square foot,” says Patrik Borenius, CEO of Green Automation Americas. “Throughout the entire growing process, the Green Automation system provides maximum space efficiency through automatic movement and adjustment of gutters, giving the plants as much space as needed, but as little as possible.”
In addition to maximizing yield through space efficiency, labor efficiency is an essential key component in a profitable operation. The system has a highly automated and versatile medium filling and seeding line arrangement using stackable trays and supporting both net pots, as well as Ellepots. After seeding and germination, the plants are placed onto the automatic growing system, featuring adjustable and movable growing lines, where they will soak up the natural sunlight. As the plants grow, they are moved automatically through the greenhouse toward the harvesting station.
In related news, in an interview earlier this year leading up to Indoor AgTech Innovation Summit in New York, Borenius discussed success factors affecting Finland’s hydroponic leafy greens industry, and how they could be applied to the North American market.