A new herb producer, based
in Scunthorpe, expects to harvest its first crop within the next week according
Jones Food Company’s
vertical farm is designed to produce 400 to 500 tonnes of crop each year
including basil, chives, coriander and dill. It is based in a ‘secret’
warehouse near the Lincolnshire town and the crops are handled automatically by
a robot known as Frank. In fact there are only four staff, none of whom
actually touch the plants.
It’s claimed that the
Scunthorpe facility includes more layers of production than other UK ‘vertical
farms’ with a total production area of 5,120 sq. m and 7.6 miles of LED
lighting, which have been supplied by GE Current and tested by company founder
Dr Paul Challinor at his home. The first crop has reportedly already been sold
to an anonymous buyer.
Malcolm Yare, horticulture
business development manager for GE Current, said, “There’s nearly no human
intervention during the whole production cycle. The lighting is at the heart of
Vitacress says it will spend £4 million on expanding intake operations at its St Mary Bourne salads factory in Hampshire.
Work on the new facility will begin this autumn and finish in 2017, with the company proposing to close its current operations at nearby Amesbury.
Vitacress CEO Toby Brinsmead said, “Two years ago we started an investment programme to support our ambition to be leaders in our core markets of fresh herbs and salads. In 2016 we completed a £6 million investment in Chichester, West Sussex, creating the UK’s leading fresh herbs facility. This new investment in our St Mary Bourne factory is the next step to ensure that we remain competitive and continue to provide the best produce available in the rapidly evolving salads market.”
The company has entered into consultation with its employees to accommodate the closure of its Amesbury factory and adapt to changes in working patterns and shift structures required at the St Mary Bourne site.
West Sussex based Langmead Farms has opened the UK’s first fully automated greenhouse.
The £3 million facility will grow 5 million pots of herbs a year for UK supermarkets and other outlets. It features a unique automatic potting; sowing and growing system that can run 24 hours a day and requires minimum human input. The 1.2-hectare site grows potted basil, parsley, mint, thyme and chives for retailers, as well as an organic range for Abel & Cole.
Featuring biomass heating, UV treated reservoir water irrigation and robotic bench control; Langmeads say the new glasshouse has been designed to be a ‘model of radical thinking and sustainability.’
Ian Summerfield, CEO at Langmeads commented, “This is a very exciting development for us. Our customers are getting five-star reviews for taste and quality from their customers – as can be seen on the Abel & Cole website. We have embraced the innovation, technology and investment required to create cutting-edge environmental and stock management for our customers.”
Langmead Farms are also carrying out market-leading research at the site, with trials of herb varieties and seed crops and a major trial is underway, in conjunction with the University of Nottingham, on lighting technology to provide the conditions for optimal growth and disease prevention.