Crop One grows food hydroponically with unique formulas for each plant. Crop One is hardware agnostic but develops its own proprietary software and data analytics platform that governs its growing process as well as it farms.
Hydroponic Technology and Data Analytics in Vertical Farming
Dave Vosberg, CFO & SVP Strategy | Crop One
Tell us about Crop One and your role with the company.
Crop One is a vertical farming holding company for two subsidiaries – FreshBox Farms, Millis, Mass., and a joint venture with Emirates Flight Catering, Dubai South, United Emirates. Crop One has been in commercial production longer than any other major vertical farmer in the U.S. It produces the highest crop yield per square foot, at 25% of the capital cost, of any vertical farm, due to its unique combination of proprietary technology platform and best-in-class plant science. For more information about Crop One and vertical farming follow the link to CropOneHoldings.com. Crop One’s mission is to solve the world’s food problems one crop at a time. The first crop we are successful with is leafy greens, but soon we will be growing fruits, proteins, some cereals and many specialty crops. My role with the company is as CFO and SVP Strategy, helping to provide the vision for corporate financial success.
Please tell us what advantages and benefits Crop One provides?
Crop One Holdings is transforming the ag tech industry, using advanced hydroponic technology and proprietary data analytics to provide pure, safe and consistent produce year round. Crop One’s differentiated technology stack and growing process make it the most advanced company in the vertical farming space. The company delivers industry-leading environmental benefits with technology that is centered around lowering costs and increasing yields. Additionally, the company is also actively experimenting with growing new crop types and cultivars, and has partnered with leading seed and research companies to develop seeds specifically bred for the controlled indoor environment.
Since sustainably feeding a growing population is a paramount interest globally, what type of international interest do you have for your farms?
Crop One Holdings, the world’s leading vertical farm operator through its FreshBox Farms brand and Emirates Flight Catering (EKFC), announced a $40 million joint venture the build the world’s largest vertical farm in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The 130,000 square foot controlled environment facility will produce three US tons (6,000 pounds) of high quality, herbicide and pesticide-free leafy greens, harvested daily, using 99 percent less water than outdoor fields. Its location will enable quick delivery of fresh products within hours of harvest, maintaining the food’s nutritional value and reducing carbon emissions associated with transportation.
How big of an issue is distribution?
Distribution is the key issue. Crops are now grown far from the point of consumption often times traveling weeks before reaching supermarkets and are vulnerable to disruptions related to climate, pathogens, and chemical intervention. Addressing these challenges will require a combination of plant science, AI, agtech, software analytics, environmental sustainability and operations management to address. Crop One’s differentiated technology stack and grow process makes it the most scalable company in the vertical farming space, delivering industry-leading environmental and economic benefits.
What role have Sensors and LEDs played?
Vertical farming that can control the environment in which it grows can be liberated from climate and geography enabled by the advent of cheap LED lighting and cheap sensors. Both have allowed us to improve economics of leafy greens and will continue to allow us to permanently change the infrastructure of agriculture, one crop at a time.
What are the innovative aspects or the technological advances that make Crop One unique?
Crop One grows food hydroponically with unique formulas for each plant. Crop One is hardware agnostic but develops its own proprietary software and data analytics platform that governs its growing process as well as it farms. Crop One is technology enabled and plant science forward - it has a strong plant science team led by Dr. Deane Falcone, enabling the company to manage its cost and increase yields. The company’s plants are supported by more than 250M+ data points for maximum growth and give the exact, correct amount of water, light, and nutrients, all grown without the use of soil. The final products (leafy greens) are fresher, safer and cleaner.
What are the biggest hurdles currently facing Vertical Farming and its expansion?
To date, the biggest hurdle facing Vertical Farming has been operators who can demonstrate consistent operational and financial success in order to attract debt financing. This is an asset-heavy industry, and without debt or third-party project capital, the business is un-scalable. Crop One has consistently proven its operations and financial performance being the only vertical farm that has consistently delivered product every week for the past four years, and at positive gross margins the past two and a half years. As such, Crop One is now on a growth trajectory to significantly expand production.
Where do you see Vertical Farming and Crop One 5 years down the road?
5-10 years from now, Vertical Farming will supply roughly 50% of the value of the leafy greens market. It will also have made inroads into fruits, proteins, cereals and specialty crops. Similar to data centers, we are at the beginning of this industry and vertical farms will soon become as plentiful. Crop One will be a leader in this space, but this is a multi-winner market. Crop One will be distinguished by its leadership in plant science, technology and business model innovation.
About David Vosburg, CFO & SVP Strategy
Dave has spent his life's work founding, growing and scaling technology businesses. Crop One Holdings, trading as FreshBox Farms, is his fifth successful startup he has lead at the CXO level. As CFO and SVP Strategy for Crop One, Dave leads the finance and strategy of the company. Dave is passionate about businesses which use technology to disrupt markets while creating significant social value. Previously, Dave was CFO of Southern Africa's largest money transfer company, outside of South Africa, CEO of Zambia's leading HR consulting and outsourcing company and CCO of an Ed-Tech startup which translated the entire Zambian primary curriculum into 5,000 flash-animated lessons. Mr. Vosburg also served as the past President of the American Chamber of Commerce in Zambia and holds a BA from the University of Notre Dame and an MBA from Yale University."
The content & opinions in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent the views of AgriTechTomorrow
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