By upgrading the fluorescent lighting previously used in the facility to LED, Philips Lighting is helping the vertical farming pioneer produce at commercial scale, accelerate growing cycles and grow healthier, more consistent plants, while saving up to $30,000 Canadian in energy costs per year.
View the embedded image gallery online at:Producing both organic and non-organic, nutrient-rich herbs and microgreens in a fully controlled indoor facility, Ecobain Gardens was established in 2013 and is the first commercial vertical farming operation in Saskatchewan.
The facility produces 18,000 pounds of produce each year in less than 1,400 square feet. Its farming method uses up to 98 per cent less water, zero harmful chemicals or pesticides and the newest energy-efficient LED lighting available from Philips Lighting. The vertical growing technology and local distribution systems reduce energy use, travel time and proximity of the crop, spoilage rates and overall operating costs.
Ecobain Gardens has partnered with food distributor Star Produce to distribute its produce throughout Canada to retailers such as Loblaws, Federated Co-op, Safeway, Sobeys, and other local grocery stores.
TOP 10 UNDER 40 AWARD WINNER
If the company name is familiar to readers, it’s probably because Ecobain Gardens co-founder/CEO Brian Bain was one of Greenhouse Canada's Top 10 Under 40 award winners for 2016.
“Our goal is to grow our operation to a scale where we can make a difference to the people of our community who need quality nutrition, no matter their economic standing or geographical location,” said Bain.
“The innovative LED products provided by Philips Lighting are helping us build cost effective, smart, productive farms to safely service this massive void we have in our food system.
“Our passion for growing plants and providing the best possible product, in unique and alternative ways, has helped shape our business and perspective on farming.”
FLUORESCENT LIGHTS REPLACED
After evaluating several LED lighting suppliers, Ecobain Gardens selected Philips GreenPower LED production modules to replace its original fluorescent lights in order to improve plant growth and quality, as well as significantly reduce energy consumption.
Once the more energy efficient system was installed, Ecobain achieved dramatic changes in its crops. Growing cycles are considerably shorter and it is now producing more than 10,000 basil plants a week, which is at commercial scale.
The low heat output of the Philips LED lights produces healthier, more consistent plant growth by reducing the heat stress on the plant canopy and root zone and by providing more uniform lighting. Plants also have a better dry weight compared to fluorescent lighting or LED lighting systems from other manufacturers.
INCREASED SPACE EFFICIENCY
In addition, the LED lighting system helped to reduce Ecobain’s HVAC system costs by almost 50 per cent while providing Ecobain with increased space efficiency due to the minimal heat radiated by the modules. These benefits enable tighter placement of crop rows and therefore more yield from the same growing area.
Paul Boers Ltd, the Philips Horticulture Partner supporting the Ecobain project, worked with Philips Lighting and the local power provider, SaskPower, to define an electric rebate structure, which resulted in a rebate of more than $70,000 for Ecobain Gardens.
“We collaborate closely with our partners and customers to achieve vertical farms that deliver superior produce quality as well as economic performance, resulting in an attractive return on investment,” said Udo van Slooten, managing director for Philips Lighting Horticulture LED Solutions.
“In partnership with Ecobain Gardens, we are taking vertical farming to the next level by demonstrating the potential of their investment as well as guiding them and their investors through the analysis and decision making process.”