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Oishii opens high-tech solar-powered vertical strawberry farm
FoodBev Media

FoodBev Media

4 June 2024

Oishii opens high-tech solar-powered vertical strawberry farm

US-based vertical farming company Oishii has opened its new 237,000-square-foot vertical strawberry farm in Phillipsburg, New Jersey. The new plant, named Amatelas Farm, is adjacent to Oishii’s solar field and runs on renewable energy. Amatelas Farm consists of individual farm units, each home to 250 moving racks of Oishii’s Koyo strawberries. Every rack is stacked with eight growing levels (this has increased from five in Oishii’s second-generation farms) that move from the warmth of day to the coolness of night on a 24-hour cycle. While many vertical farms grow produce on static racks, Oishii’s moving architecture automates the growing process and is said to enable bees, robots and farmers to work together to grow more berries in the same footprint. Amatelas Farm’s harvests are grown primarily using solar power, sourced from the 50-acre solar field next door. The farm, which is built in a repurposed plastics manufacturing plant, is also fitted with LED lights that use 14% less energy per plant. Additionally, the facility’s water purification system has eight times more capacity than the older Oishii farms, allowing it to recycle most of the water it uses. In February,

Oishii raised $134 million in a Series B funding round. At the time, the firm said it would use the funding to open this new solar-powered facility, expand its distribution to new markets and invest in advanced robotics and energy-saving innovations. The farm uses nearly 50 robots that work around the clock to ensure berries are picked at the peak of ripeness, optimising operations over time. Oishii’s proprietary robots capture more than 60 billion data points annually, which are used to monitor and adjust the environmental variables of each farm unit. By pairing machine vision with machine learning, Oishii’s farms get incrementally more efficient, improving important metrics like pollination success and harvest predictability to deliver the best-tasting fruit. Hiroki Koga, CEO and co-founder of Oishii, said: “In just two years, we’ve developed technological breakthroughs now in use at Amatelas Farm that make our growing process significantly more efficient, yet just as delicious. Our desire to maintain this exponential rate of innovation is driven by a deeply human need: we see vertical farming as a critical part of the solution to our failing agriculture system. Our new farm represents a huge step forward in our mission to grow food that’s better for people and the planet.” The new farm has capacity to grow more than 20 times the number of berries compared to Oishii’s previous facility. Amatelas Farm now serves as the primary production facility for Oishii’s Koyo strawberries. Mugen Farm, its 72,000 square foot farm in Jersey City, will continue growing Oishii’s Omakase strawberries and will add more space to grow the company’s Rubī Tomato.

Oishii says that its plant scientists will begin to trial new types of berries with retailers in the coming weeks, with plans to unveil a new strawberry variety later this year.

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