Duncan Family Farms (DFF), one of North America’s largest growers of organic leafy greens and herbs, and Agbotic, a leader in automation for organic, soil greenhouses, announced Feb. 18 their intent to jointly build and operate distributed SmartFarms.
Duncan Family Farms owns and operates organic farms in Arizona, California, Oregon, and New York state and will develop year-round, automated greenhouse production capacity on its farming operations.
Interest in Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) has substantially increased in recent years. Most CEA is hydroponic, produces limited crop types, uses significant amounts of energy, and relies on synthetic fertilizers from high-carbon-footprint industrial processes. Agbotic’s model for CEA deploys advanced automation to grow organic crops in soil. Agbotic’s approach is flexible for many crop types, it’s water and energy-efficient, grows crops without synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, and produces crops at a lower cost than hydroponic/vertical methods. These improvements are driven by Agbotic’s patented, patent-pending, and proprietary technology stack.
Will Feliz, CEO of DFF, said, “Of the many approaches to CEA we have investigated, the Agbotic model stands out as a solution for climate-smart, distributed farming. We are particularly interested in its flexibility to grow a wide range of crops in soil and its compatibility with outdoor seasonal farming upon which the world’s food supply will continue to rely. Intelligently combining seasonal and year-round fresh food production – organically in soil – is an excellent path to growing healthy, flavorful, and affordable food in a way that can meaningfully address climate change.”
John Gaus, CEO at Agbotic, commented, “We are excited to partner with such well-established, large-scale, and highly respected domain experts. We are currently achieving industry-leading production economics with our proprietary technology, and this relationship will help rapidly accelerate our plans to extend our tech stack to more plant types, inside and outside, with greater resource efficiency, higher levels of precision and automation, and with a deep learning model.”
Duncan Family Farms is a multi-regional certified organic farm operation with over 7,000 acres in four states. The Company’s farms contract, grow, and deliver over 25 different fresh produce items in high volumes to some of the largest value-added processors in the world. These processors provide bagged salads to the retail and foodservice industries. The Company also sells its own line of culinary herbs.
Agbotic builds highly differentiated farm automation technology for distributed, organic farming. The company’s proprietary technology for soil agriculture can grow many different crop types without the use of chemicals; it grows crops with 90% less water and utilizes a deep data learning model. Crops grown with Agbotic technology are certified organic by the USDA and the Real Organic Project. The Company operates its first SmartFarm in Sackets Harbor, New York, and sells fresh produce across New York State under its GoodHealthy brand.