Safe transport of pallets and stacked goods can be guaranteed with strong and reliable strapping machines. Steenks Service offers a wide range of horizontal and vertical strapping machines, which are available as both automatic and semi-automatic models. A popular strapping machine is the Reisopack 2905.

    The Reisopack 2905 is a state-of-the-art automatic strapping machine from Steenks Service. This machine can work independently and can be integrated into an automated production line. This modern machine is ideal for strapping large amounts of pallets and is easy to program and use.

    Some unique selling points of the Reisopack 2905 are:

    ·       Production speed of approx. 72 seconds (with 3 straps and pallet corners)

    •      Automatic pallet corner detection

    ·       Corner boards are pressed automatically onto the corners of the pallet

    •      Double stock of corner boards

    •      Adjustable electronic band tension

    •      Coloured touchscreen with instructional videos

    Conversion to mobile model possible

    A Reisopack 2905 can also be built into a mobile machine, so that it can strap multiple pallets without manual transport of pallets being necessary. In this case, the strapping machine moves towards the pallet and straps it accordingly. This can make your independent strapping machine work twice as efficient.


    You can visit the Steenks Service website for more information: You can also reach Steenks Service by calling 0174- 510 266 or by email on

    The agriculture sowing area of Russia was 79.2 million hectares (4.6% of the total Russia national territorial area) in 2018 with a predicted increase by 1.3 million hectares in 2019. This area is mainly located in the Southern continent, near or in East Europe.

    Russia Agriculture Map

    In the agricultural production structure of enterprises between 2000 and 2018, households of citizens dropped from 51.6% to 31.0%, whereas at the end 2018, agricultural organizations took 56.5% and household farms accounted 12.5%. It indicates that after the collapse, agriculture experienced low efficiency and now is highly mechanized. Agricultural machinery companies attended and occupied the majority of the sector conference.

    The produced crops were illustrated by their percentage. Major cereals, beetroots, potatoes and sunflowers were counted as top crops (data source “BRICS Joint Statistical Publication 2018”). In detailed divisions, cucumbers and tomatoes exceeded production by 2.4 and 2.8 million tons, respectively. This high yield was closely followed by sugar beet. It benefited with the greenhouses production area which increased 28.8%, as calculated by the Ministry of agriculture of Russia 2018

    The sown area under cereal and grain cultivation in Russia in 2018, by crop and federal district (in 1,000 hectares) (sourcing: Statista 2020)

    Overview agrochemical in Russia

    Agrochemicals consumption in Russia in 2018 reached 68.3 thousand tons, worth US$708 million, whereas China exported 40.5 thousand tons, agrochemicals worth $304 million to this country. The consumption of herbicides was higher than fungicides and then insecticides. Following are the top five consumed products in three categories.

    Following are the top 10 China pesticides exported to Russia in 2018. Formulation exports was twice that of technical products. Still, within those years, the supplier companies were relatively stable, and even bulk product Glyphosate, had less than 15 suppliers on average.

    The Russian market for plant protection is dominated by imported products. Domestic production is mainly represented by three largest manufacturers such as August, Shchelkovo and Agro Expert Group, but still, their basic components were imported.

    Dark horse product and supplier

    Dark horse Chinese suppliers were analyzed according to the export volumes to Russia. SYNWILL witnessed rapid development, jumping from a ranking of 118 to move into the Top 10. 

    Chinese suppliers201720182019
    Synwill Co.,Ltd118246
    YongNong BioSciences CO.,Ltd76198
    Lier Chemical Co.,Ltd.1887

    Table1: Ranking according to the company export volume to Russia, 2017-2019

    Dark horse products were analyzed according to the export volume to Russia. Product changes were not significant.

    Imidacloprid 97% TC5467
    Fenoxaprop-p-ethyl 98% TC48658
    Clopyralid 95% TC321913

    Table2: Ranking according to the product export volume to Russia, 2017-2019

    In the new sample formulations during 2018 and 2019, the products which appeared were those which exported 20 kg and increased export volume next year: Fomesafen 250g/L SL, Haloxyfop-P-methyl 104g/L EC, and Imazamox 33g/L+Imazapyr-isopropylammonium 15g/L SL, etc.

    By Yutian Lu

    Source: Ag News

    Photo: <a href=””>Food photo created by bearfotos –</a>

    Under the agreement, Royal Brinkman will have the right to promote and distribute Current’s horticulture Arize™ grow lights solutions and upcoming Lucalox™ High Pressure Sodium lamps to the U.K. horticulture market.

    Current will be the exclusive lighting provider for Royal Brinkman U.K.

    Together, the two companies will collaborate on driving the horticulture industry forward while providing exemplary service for growers. This includes identifying modern and environmentally friendly solutions, such as industry-leading energy-efficient grow lights for greenhouses, indoor farms or controlled environment facilities that help provide greater yields, more harvests and higher profits.

    Photo Courtesy of Hort News

    “We are absolutely thrilled to work exclusively with Royal Brinkman. They have a reputation for being the best in the horticulture industry, and that means they are also known for choosing the best partners,” said Malcolm Yare, Horticulture Business Development Manager at GE Current, a Daintree company. “We believe that Current’s grow lights lead the market and will be a valuable asset in our push for more sustainable, higher-quality crop production.”

    Glenn Notley, Managing Director at Royal Brinkman, said: “Current’s Arize™ product range is at the forefront of the horticulture industry, and we’ve seen them succeed in all types of indoor farms, vertical farms and greenhouses. We are pleased to work with them to introduce their technology to our growers in the U.K.”

    A large portion of the partnership will be assisting the burgeoning cannabis market in gaining a foothold. Royal Brinkman recently launched Can-Hub, a top-to-bottom resource for cannabis growers to help them find the equipment and expertise they need in one reliable online location. Current has also made inroads into this market: In 2019, it introduced the Arize Element L1000, a grow light specifically designed for cannabis that has been shown to promote higher cannabinoid levels and better crop yield than traditional solutions.

    While the relationship is only within the U.K. for now, both Current and Royal Brinkman are optimistic about the possibility of expanding the partnership into other countries.


    Growers in states that have legalized recreational or medical cannabis are facing at least at least one key challenge: More than 90% of what they grow is considered refuse or plant waste, for which disposal is expensive. This dual situation has created a burgeoning industry to explore new methods for using the whole hemp plant and more sustainable ways to extract value from its stalk and hurd, the woody inner part of the stalk.

    Charles Cai, a Research Engineer and Adjunct Professor at University of California, Riverside’s College of Engineering Center for Environmental Research and Technology, has developed and patented an improved pulping method that uses a naturally derived solvent, creates no toxic waste, emits no carbon dioxide, and converts nearly 100% of the hemp plant into usable components, such as cellulose fiber for use in textiles and construction, resinous lignin for use in bioplastics, sugars for use as sweeteners, and extractives for use in wellness products.

    Traditional hempcrete made with untreated hemp hurds (left). Experimental hempcrete, made with CELF-treated hemp fibers (center) and agitated CELF-treated fibers (right). Photo: Charles Cai

    The method, called Co-solvent Enhanced Lignocellulosic Fractionation, or CELF, uses a renewable and highly recyclable solvent to perform pulping under mild conditions, saving process energy while generating zero harmful emissions. The only waste is a small amount of mineral ash that is filtered out of the process and can be used as a soil amendment. CELF was originally conceived to help convert plant waste into biofuels. However, its effectiveness at deconstructing plant matter makes it a Swiss Army knife for all plant processing. Its scientific merit was recently proven by one of the world’s fastest supercomputers.

    Now, Cai is working with a team of undergraduate students to commercialize the hemp-processing technology through funding from the EPA’s People, Prosperity and the Planet Program, or EPA P3. Last year, the team demonstrated proof of concept for using the CELF pulping method, using it to make an improved type of hempcrete, a concrete-like, carbon sequestering building material made from hemp fibers.


    After eight years of service in the Marine Corps, Ariel Montanez wasn’t really considering a career in horticulture. “The only thing I knew about plants was how to use them as camouflage,” says Montanez, who served in Okinawa and other deployments around the world before finishing his service at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. “I never even thought of plants as a business.”

    But after earning his business degree, Montanez landed his first post-military job at Monrovia Nursery in 2006 as a human resource assistant.

    He worked his way through roles in shipping and logistics, purchasing and maintenance before Monrovia closed its North Carolina facility. At that point, Montanez interviewed for a similar shipping role at Pender Nursery in Garner, North Carolina — but they offered him the position of general manager instead.

    “I told them, ‘Look, you realize I don’t have a horticulture background. I don’t know plants,’” Montanez says. “But what I did understand was how to set processes and how to organize people.”

    Even without classic plant knowledge, Montanez’s military background provided the right mix of skills to lead the growing team at Pender Nursery, where he’s been since 2013.

    “That’s probably the one thing that has helped me as general manager, my military experience: how to organize people, how to motivate people, how to find and develop talent,” Montanez says. “The leaders I had in the military challenged me to be better and work harder, and that’s something I bring to this role. I enjoy seeing people grow and develop.”

    Pender Nursery has a diverse inventory on 40 acres.

    Troop mentality

    Although Montanez learned leadership from the Marine Corps, he’s definitely “not a drill instructor style” manager.

    “I think the drill instructor style works for building Marines, but not necessarily for leading employees. You get more out of people by motivating them,” he says. “I’ve worked for people who had an authoritative leadership style, and honestly, I didn’t enjoy that. I’d rather work for somebody who valued my opinions.”

    Instead, Montanez works hard to foster a team environment where everyone has a voice. “From the beginning, I wanted to instill a culture of respect, where people feel that their ideas matter and they’re taken seriously,” he says.

    To that end, Montanez meets with the growing, potting and propagation teams weekly to make sure everyone stays on the same page. They discuss plant issues first, then people and processes second – but he’s careful to keep meetings on point.

    “If we get into a subject that needs more planning and thought, we’ll table it and (reassign it to) the right team leaders so we’re not dragging it out,” he says. “A lot of people dread meetings because they get stuck in meetings that don’t pertain to them, so I try to make sure that our meetings are meaningful.”

    When he stepped into the GM role, Montanez faced a steep learning curve juggling plant production cycles for hundreds of SKUs in Pender’s diverse inventory. The wholesale nursery, which was the first licensed grower of Encore Azaleas on the East Coast, also grows perennials, groundcovers, shrubs, trees and grasses on about 40 acres (10 of which are covered).

    By strictly managing inventory, Montanez has been able to solve labor problems at Pender Nursery.

    “If you don’t manage your inventory, you’ll never be able to manage your sales,” he says, “so I spend a lot of time looking at our crops to see what’s moving. I’m strict about inventory management because of the effect it has on the bottom line.”

    To keep products moving through Pender Nursery at a profit, Montanez closely assessed all the processes involved in the operation, and then identified opportunities to improve efficiency. One of the biggest changes happened on the potting line.

    “When I first took over, the potting team consisted of 17 people, and the machine we were using wasn’t very efficient,” he says. “By sitting down and looking at how our nursery is arranged, asking ourselves some questions, and experimenting with different processes, we were able to reduce that headcount down to eight people. We ended up eliminating the machine; we’re getting more done without it, and we’re really happy with the quality of the potting.”

    Through continuous improvement and strict inventory management, Montanez streamlined the nursery’s operation to alleviate ongoing labor challenges. “When I took over in 2013, we had 60 to 65 people, and just through analyzing processes, we’ve been able to dwindle that down to 40 people at peak,” he says. “We’ve been able to really impact our labor costs and our bottom line.”

    To help Pender Nursery improve its plant quality, and ultimately, maintain profitability, Montanez continues to innovate more efficient solutions.

    “Be flexible and be prepared for change, because change is always going to happen,” he advises other growers. “If you fear change, that’s the nail in the coffin for a lot of businesses. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes and learn from them so you can become better.”


    Already owners of a DOT Power-Platform, operations manager Chuck Baresich says the company’s new investment in a RoamIO autonomous robot is specifically intended to help employees accomplish more in less time.

    “We wanted this robot because every year we have a range of small monotonous tasks that just don’t get done,” says Baresich. “My vision is RoamIO becomes a partner unit to our employees that can increase the productivity of existing staff. It takes some skill to work, so its augmenting skilled workers ability to get things done.”

    The RoamIO robot is separate unit from any attachment. The steel rack shown on the current prototype was added at Haggerty Creek to hold an optical soil sensor and hopper for cover crop seeding. – Photo: Matt McIntosh

    What is RoamIO

    RoamIO autonomous robots are developed and marketed by Ontario-based startup Korechi Innovations Inc. The unit has both LiDAR and Radar, and operates using RTK. It’s controlled via a tablet, though both the tablet and unit itself have their own internet signals. This, says Sougata Pahari, founder and chief executive officer of Korechi, helps expand the range at which RoamIO can operate.

    “Paths are generated on the tablet. This is sent to a relay box on the machine, and it starts moving,” says Pahari. “It has a movement resolution that can bring it to within five millimeters of the specified destination within the field. Even if it’s told to go a kilometer away it is within one inch.”

    Other specifications

    • Speed of 6 km/hr
    • Powered by Lithium-ion batteries with an eight-hour battery life
    • Between 3000-4000 charge cycles
    • Carrying capacity of 660 pounds (300 kilograms)
    • Average weight distribution of three pounds (1.4 kilograms) per square inch when loaded with fertiliser, cover crop seed, etc.

    Main prototype

    The unit currently employed at Haggerty Creek – one of two currently in use, and the only one working commercially – is actually Korechi’s main prototype used for demonstrations and further research. Baresich is due to receive a larger version (five feet by 45 inches in size), though shipping issues have delayed final construction.

    Even with the larger size, Baresich says his forthcoming machine is still small enough to fit in the back of most pickup trucks. That means no special licenses are required to transport it, and more people will be able to use it.

    Soil scanning and cover crop application

    Unlike some autonomous farm equipment, RoamIO exists as an entirley separate machine – that is, not one built for a select purpose. This is what originally attracted Baresich to the design, since he saw opportunity to augmented it with a wide range of implements. These could be separately added, removed, and controlled.

    In March of this year, for example, Baresich attached a seed hopper to the still-working RoamIO prototype in order to apply clover as a cover crop. At the time, he said uniform dispersal and complete coverage of 50 acres (450 pounds) was achieved in six hours using a spreading distance of 40 feet, although a wider distance was possible. Some initial challenges were resolved with slight modifications, though no issues with terrain (mud) were experienced.

    Now Baresich and his colleagues are using RoamIO for soil testing and analysis. This is done by attaching a SoilOptix soil sensor camera.

    “Soil sampling is a tedious task and takes a while. It involves taking strategic core samples, as well as very consistent, slow driving to ensure the optical sensor works properly. Inconsistent speeds skew the data. Instead of doing 250 acres a day when we send someone to the field, we should now be able to do 400 or 500,” says Baresich.

    “It could also be used for weed and brush control. We need to make sure those pathways along the field stay open by having them sprayed a couple times a year. We have to be very vigilant about resistant weeds. A small sprayer tank and a six-foot swath is all you would need.”

    Employ RoamIO in disease and pest scouting

    In the long term Baresich says they also hope to employ RoamIO in disease and pest scouting, as well as fertilizer application. Ideally, they will eventually acquire an additional unit to support staff.

    “We had acres this spring that just didn’t get done,” he says. “Say we charge $ 20 to $ 25 an acre for soil optical analysis work – we will be doubling that output.”

    Korechi employees Jim Clark (left), chief marketing officer, and Sougata Pahari (right), founder and chief executive officer, pose with their commercially-working RoamIO robot at Haggerty Creek Ltd. in July, 2020. – Photo: Matt McIntosh

    Cost, and further refinement

    Baresich’s forthcoming larger unit brings a price tag of $ 75,000. Baresch says he has “been assured” a full ten-year battery life, with 80 per cent power potential left at that time.

    “I’d budget maybe $ 1000 a year for maintenance,” he says. The only other anticipated costs relate to the data support systems associated with their existing precision technologies. “I’ve really learned over the years – you really need the data support,” says Bareisch.

    The cost of Korechi’s prototype RoamIO is not fixed since it continues to undergo changes based on feedback from Baresich and his colleagues. The initial speed of the unit, for example, was only four kilometers per hour. This is inadequate for larger scale fields, though not for the smaller vineyards and orchards for which it was originally designed.

    “I wanted 12 kilometers per hour, but that ended up being a bit too fast to maintain consistency [in soil analysis], so we met in the middle at 6 kilometers per hour,” says Baresich.

    Next RoamIO model named after Haggerty Creek

    For Pahari, working with Haggerty Creek has been invaluable to RoamIO’s design. “Not being involved directly with the agriculture industry, there were uses and complications we did not foresee,” Pahari says. They experienced so many revelations, in fact, the next model will be named after Haggerty Creek Ltd.

    Names aside, Baresich reiterates his belief that small, adaptable autonomous units are a reasonable solution for smaller farms – ones that otherwise cannot afford larger, much more costly equipment, or full-time employees. “If you’re growing 500 acres it doesn’t might not make sense to have a hired person full-time,” he says.

    Click here for more information.


    The indoor farming industry is heating up again, posting one of the biggest year-over-year increases in funding according to AgFunder’s AgriFoodTech Investing Report. In 2019, indoor farming investment jumped 38% on 2018.

    For Florida-based vertical farming startup Kalera, forward momentum is everything.

    “Orlando was our first large-scale facility, but we are eager to double up,” CEO Daniel Malechuk tells AFN. “Our rollout plan has been right on schedule and we will continue to see that in the months and years ahead. It will be a massive rollout across North America and we have plans for an international expansion quickly.”

    Kalera recently announced plans to open what it describes as the largest vertical farm in Texas. The location provides access to a number of densely-populated areas nearby that are showing strong demand for locally sourced food.

    The announcement comes only two months after Kalera revealed plans for a new facility in Atlanta that will open in early 2021. Two months prior to that, it opened its second Orlando-based vertical farm. The startup has not disclosed any information about its external funding to date, which might be why many people haven’t heard of the company before, but is “very well funded,” according to Malechuk.

    Kalera’s vertical farming technology includes a proprietary nutrition management system that rebalances water nutrient levels using sensors and data analytics, as well as control mechanisms to regulate temperature, humidity, airflow, and lighting. The startup spent its first 10 years of operations perfecting these technologies, Malechuk says.

    Farmer first, tech second

    But Kalera’s rapid-rollout strategy has less to do with technology and more to do with mindset. Kalera considers itself to be a farmer first and a tech company second. 

    “We leverage tech when we can and where we can, but we never lose sight of the fact that we are farmers first,” Malechuk says.

    He claims that this helps Kalera differentiate itself with “industry-leading unit economics.”

    “We have higher yields at less cost than anybody in the industry. We can provide everyday citizens with our product through a local distributor or retailer at a price that is in line with a traditional [farmland-based] comparable product,” he says.

    Malechuk was mostly mum about the secret sauce that goes into these self-proclaimed “industry-leading” figures, but he did give a few hints.

    “When I say we have a farmer-first attitude, I mean [we believe] getting the job done well is more important than the glitz and glimmer. We are focused on the end result and the most cost-effective way to get there.”

    The Atlanta facility will be the highest-producing vertical farm in the Southeastern US, according to Kalera, but its Houston location will be even bigger once operational. It plans to sell greens from that farm to the hospitality and travel industries, as well as the retailers and foodservice distributors which make up its primary customer base. As one example, Kalera helped build the HyCube — an onsite vertical farm — at the Orlando World Center Marriott that supplied greens for the resort’s restaurants and convention center. 

    Marriott is just one of a number of established corporates showing interest in bringing indoor farming to new places. At the start of the year, Freight Farms announced a new partnership with Sodexo to bring its container farms to college campuses across the US. In New York, Farmshelf has its own grow cabinets deployed in WeWork FoodLabs and the UK’s Square Mile Farms recently crowdfunded over $300,000 to re-kit office spaces with fresh produce.

    Pandemic ups and downs

    As the Covid-19 pandemic swept through the food service industry, however, new challenges have arisen for Kalera and others focused on that industry.

    “There is so much uncertainty with the food market in general, but on the other hand, the pandemic has highlighted the importance of food safety and local food,” Malechuk says.

    As consumers bear witness to the fragility of globalized supply chains, some are seeing the merits of opting for low-contact, locally sourced food products. Across the US, demand for locally-produced food has increased as supermarket shelves remained empty and consumers grew concerned about making trips to the grocery store.

    “The less far a product travels, the fewer hands that touch it, the cleaner, healthier, and more sustainable a product is. This is being highlighted and people are feeling more comfortable with products like ours,” Malechuk says.

    Kalera isn’t the only company to see this as an opportunity for vertical farming. Inno-3B, a Canadian startup developing a turnkey vertical farming solution for plant-based pharmaceutical companies, claims to have diverted its focus to confronting Covid-19 head-on.

    To do this, it has teamed up with biopharmaceutical businesses PlantFormCape Bio Pharms, and Biopterre. Inno-3B plans to build and operate a pilot molecular farm at its 35,000 sq. ft facility located in St-Pacôme, Québec, which its partner firms will also use to develop “a monoclonal antibody treatment” for Covid-19 patients. 


    Photo: Kalera CEO Daniel Malechuk (Photo credit: Kalera)

    US- Nicole Gauthier, an Extension Specialist in Plant Pathology at the University of Kentucky, has some words of wisdom for greenhouse growers when it comes to how they should think about sanitation in their facilities.

    “It all comes down to just being clean and remembering the basics,” Gauthier says. “It’s easy to get caught up in all the bells and whistles of new technology or systems, but if you’re not taking the simple steps to keep your greenhouse clean, then none of that matters.”

    Failure to clean your greenhouse floor is just inviting a pathogen problem, according to Nicole Gauthier, an Extension Specialist in Plant Pathology at the University of Kentucky. Photo: Nicole Gauthier

    Gauthier offers several tips below for growers to make sure they are doing things the right way.

    Know Your Pathogens: Even in a controlled environment, there is a risk of dangerous pathogens infecting your crop. It’s important to understand the life cycle of each, and how they can survive on different surfaces. “You can find them on your floor or on your benches,” Gauthier says. “In particular, watch your wood benches, as those can be difficult to clean.”

    Bring in Orphan Plants. Fallowing or planting orphan plants in between fresh vegetable cycles can be a simple way to reduce the potential for a buildup of pathogens.

    Control Traffic. Know the traffic pattern of people and plants moving around in your greenhouse, Gauthier notes. “Always keep it as clean as possible, and clear out any debris,” she says.

    Have a Quarantine Area. This is especially important for new plants coming into the greenhouse, and it’s something Gauthier says is not considered nearly enough. “Block out where your new plants should be going,” Gauthier says. “If you find a problem, it’s easier to remove plants if they’re not interspersed throughout the greenhouse. And don’t be afraid to cut your losses. Even if you suspect a problem in a valuable crop, move it out.”

    Invest in Proper Testing. Make sure you know where your local testing lab is and send plants to a diagnostic lab if you think there’s a problem. “Be diligent and do it early, before it’s too late,” Gauthier says.

    Have a Regular Greenhouse Maintenance Schedule. According to Gauthier, this should include washing and sanitizing pots before reusing them, flushing out irrigation lines, and cleaning hoses.

    Have a Plan, and Be Willing to Upgrade

    Eric Smith, East Coast Sales Manager for the Turf and Ornamentals Market at BioSafe Systems, has recommendations of his own on proper sanitation.

    “Developing a sanitation plan, even the most simple one, is a step in the right direction,” Smith says. “The upsides of a facility sanitation plan far outweigh any additional costs of application. Insurance liability alone can offset the cost, not to mention aesthetics, plant health, shrink, and happier customers.”

    The easiest way to improve your sanitation, Smith says, is to upgrade your equipment.

    “Spraying is nice, but foaming is far superior and nearly a necessity when it comes time to get serious about food safety/consumables,” Smith says. “The extended contact time of the foam with vertical or irregular surfaces, coupled with a no-rinse high-level disinfectant, is the apex of sanitation in our industry.”

    The specifics of greenhouse sanitation may differ based on crop, but there are lessons all growers can learn from each other.

    “We’re definitely seeing more of a systems approach to sanitation, and a fair amount of this is driven by the standard operating procedures developed for cannabis and greenhouse vegetables from a food safety standpoint,” Smith says. “That’s translating into ornamentals as well, with sanitation being now more than just a buzzword. Growers who are developing sanitation strategies for both pre-production and during production are seeing the benefits to plant health, from less shrink to improved margins.”

    A Grower Perspective

    Jackie Hawkins, Senior Manager of Food Safety at BrightFarms, a greenhouse leafy greens grower with production facilities throughout the Eastern U.S, says ozone and ultraviolet light are the most prominent tools used at BrightFarms for sanitation.

    “These are great for both plant and human pathogens,” Hawkins says. “UV is also cost effective compared to other filtration devices.”

    When it comes to making improvements, Hawkins says better board sanitation is a top priority.

    “We want to be sustainable and reuse our grow boards (rafts), but we also need to ensure they are free from plant and human pathogens. Having a thorough cleaning process is key, but so is determining the life cycle of these boards,” she says.


    Photo: Cheryl Kaiser, UK

    Technology will make horticulture more efficient and sustainable, says founder and Managing Director Ros Harvey of Australian company, The Yield Technology Solutions.

    According to Ms Harvey, technology is also the key to dealing with the impacts of climate change. “Weather is becoming more unpredictable”, she emphasises. “And critical resources like water are scarcer and therefore more expensive. We must change the way we grow things to do more with less.”

    The Yield recently finalized an investment of US $7.85 million, led by Yamaha Motor Ventures. The tech company will use the investment for further development of its product, particularly in the field of analytics. The Yield will also focus on its go-to-market and patent strategies, says Ms. Harvey.

    Uncertainty created by weather

    The company focuses on a problem all growers share: the uncertainty created by weather. “It’s the one thing they can’t control in their production processes”, says Ms. Harvey. “And every one that sells into a farm or buys out from a farm is affected by this fundamental problem. That’s effectively what we solve. So that growers only use the inputs they need to use and reduce food waste.”

    Localized prediction

    The Sydney based company uses artificial intelligence (AI) to create a solution for growers. Its core product Sensing+ is able to collect data over a 3,000 square km area. The platform helps farmers to increase revenue, reduce costs, mitigate risks, and assists customers in their digital transformation.

    Real-time data and AI

    The Yield holds a global patent right to its solution, Ms. Harvey says. “We take real-time data and then use AI to produce a very localized prediction. The global weather forecasting system uses a 25 by 25 km grid. So you‘re getting an average of this grid. In many countries, they use local sensors and grid down to for example a 4 by 4 km grid. We go further and create a prediction for microclimates.”

    As we deepen our engagement with our customers, we are not only solving problems on farms, but also along the supply chain

    The platform increasingly uses data from technology that its customers already use. “With yield prediction in berries, we take data from the harvest management systems of our customers”, Ms Harvey says. “As we deepen our engagement with our customers, we are not only solving problems on farms, but also along the supply chain.”

    Founder Ros Harvey of The Yield: “Growers experience that the weather on the farm can be quite different from the predictions.” – Photo: The Yield

    In-tunnel weather prediction

    The company recently rolled out Sensing+ across eight berry farms of the Costa Group in Queensland, New South Wales, and Tasmania. “Costa grows their berries in poly-tunnels”, Ms. Harvey explains. “This creates a microclimate and so the grid weather prediction is not very effective there anymore. Our sensing equipment provides an in-tunnel weather prediction, and we use our web and mobile apps to gather microclimate data. We then combine this data with Costa’s harvest management system data to provide weather predictions, apps to help improve on-farm effectiveness and yield predictions.”

    What plants are experiencing

    The same practice can be used for predicting light in a glasshouse or wind on the top of a glass house, Ms Harvey explains. “Or for in-canopy growing conditions. What are the plants actually experiencing? We are an analytics business. That’s the core of what we do. We deliver to our customers easy to use solutions so they can make fast, confident decisions about when to plant, irrigate, feed, protect and harvest.”

    Poly-tunnels as this one of the Costa Group create a microclimate. – Photo: The Yield

    Many growers still rely on traditional manual methods of yield prediction that can often be inaccurate. “They have their own weather stations”, Ms Harvey says. “But they experience that the weather on the farm can be quite different from the predictions. Our predictions are more accurate. We had an almond grower that was able to double the spray hours in which he could operate, within the environmental constraint. This can be very important for sensitive crops like almonds. The wider spray window also delivered the grower a better return on investment for their robotics operation.”

    Higher gross margin per hectare

    The Yield works mainly in intensive irrigated crops, where there is a higher gross margin per hectare. “If you are in broadacre in Australia and doing huge crops like wheat or sorghum, you don’t have the tools or incentives as a grower to manage that crop at a microclimate level”, Ms Harvey explains. “It’s just not worth your while. But the intensive irrigated perennial crops have four times the gross margin per hectare. The growers manage their harvesting very accurately because their return on investment is so much higher.”

    New features are added to Sensing+ approximately every two weeks, Ms Harvey says. “It’s a continual process. We recently added Block Selection, which makes it easier for users of our platform to sort blocks by weather phenomenon such as extreme temperatures or water balances. This is important for multi-site large corporate growers. Another addition is Photosynthetically Active Radiation (PAR). This is an important variable that growers in glass houses and tunnels use for crop management.”

    CEO Harry Debney of the Costa Group, a customer of The Yield, and Ros Harvey. – Photo: The Yield

    Electrical Conductivity

    Another example of a new feature is Electrical Conductivity (EC). Ms. Harvey: “In systems where you manage the fertilizer with the irrigation, this is used as a proxy for nutrient levels. It is used by growers to adjust their nutrition program. In our platform, growers can combine their own preferred weather variables to solve certain problems.”

    According to Ms. Harvey, The Yield’s core technology team is from one of Australia’s most successful fintech businesses. “The team built the world’s largest financial database, used to create the algorithms for high-frequency trading, and sold as a service around the world. That’s why we had a jump-start managing huge amounts of data.”

    Global multinationals

    Currently, the Yield has customers in Australia, New Zealand and the US. “We planned to increase our marketing in the U.S. but with COVID-19 this has not been possible”, Ms. Harvey says. “But interestingly most of our customers are global multinationals and we are already providing services to support their growing bases globally.”

    The Yield node at a berry farm of the Costa Group. – Photo: The Yield

    Accelerate the digital transformation

    At the moment most customers of The Yield are looking to accelerate their digital transformation, Ms. Harvey says. “They want to get more value out of their data by combining it with our analytics. We have a strong demand because of COVID-19. They are facing pressure on labor and want to improve managing their assets remotely. Big multinational food companies want to minimize their risks. They also need to understand the situation around their harvest, so that they can better match market access.”


    UZBEKISTAN, Tashkent- Representatives of the Embassy of Uzbekistan in the Benelux countries, together with the Agency for attracting foreign investments under the Ministry of Investment and Foreign Trade and responsible persons of the khokimiyats of Bukhara, Kashkadarya, Navoi and Khorezm regions held online negotiations with the leaders of the Dutch company PlantLab, Dunyo news agency reported.

    During the meeting, Dutch businessmen said that PlantLab was established in 2005 and specializes in vertical farming.

    It offers the possibility of year-round cultivation of almost all types of plants in isolated conditions, without sun and soil, with 90% water savings. The yield is tens of times greater than when grown in field or greenhouse conditions. Grow containers can be installed in almost any location.

    The technology of “vertical farming” is especially in demand in areas experiencing water shortages. So, if in an open field for growing 1 kilogram of lettuce leaves, 250 liters of water are required, and the yield is 4 kilograms of products per 1 square meter, in greenhouse conditions, 20 liters of water are required to obtain 1 kilogram of the crop, and the yield of 1 square meter is 41 kilograms … In a “vertical farming” environment, 1 kilogram of crop requires 1 liter of water, while the yield is up to 120 kilograms per square meter.

    Currently, the company’s products are supplied to a number of supermarkets and restaurants in the largest cities in the Netherlands. The company plans to bring revenue to 1 billion euros in the next 10 years.

    Speaking about the prospects for cooperation, the interlocutors expressed their readiness to study with the Uzbek side the possibility of implementing a project to create a production facility in the republic for growing agricultural products based on “vertical farming” technologies. Based on his experience, the interlocutor noted that for a start they are ready to implement a pilot project worth about 2 million euros.

    According to them, within the framework of this project, they could share their knowledge, experience and technologies in such areas as sowing seeds, rational use of water resources, and the use of chemical components.

    In addition, at the initial stage, it is advisable to determine the needs for the types and volumes of products grown in the future. It is necessary to work out and agree in advance with the supermarket chain of Uzbekistan the conditions for purchasing the grown products.

    The representative of the khokimiyat of Bukhara region spoke about the potential of the region, as well as the activities of the free economic zone “Bukhara-agro”, which created conditions and a system of benefits for foreign investors. He proposed to implement a pilot project on the territory of the FEZ and expressed his readiness to find a local partner and provide all kinds of assistance in the implementation of this project.

    The representative of the Kashkadarya regional khokimiyat spoke in detail about the initiative of the regional authorities to create an Uzbek-Dutch agro-industrial center in the city of Karshi, which is proposed to be carried out with the involvement of experienced specialists and large companies from the Netherlands. On the basis of the Center, it is planned to establish a system of training Uzbek farmers in the field of gardening, greenhouse business and others, as well as create a platform for the exchange of experience between specialists from the two countries. The Kashkadarya side also offered the PlantLab managers to implement a pilot project in their region.

    The Dutch side expressed its readiness to visit Uzbekistan in the near future to study the situation on the spot, conduct negotiations with potential local partners. As a result of the videoconference, an agreement was reached to work out the visit of the PlantLab delegation to Uzbekistan approximately in the second half of September this year as the epidemiological situation improves.

    Source and Photo Courtesy of

    But a group of keen Kiwis are hoping to grow that very image, and have hemp take its rightful place as a marker of rural Aotearoa.

    Hemp, a variety of the cannabis sativa plant species, often gets confused with its notorious ‘wacky baccy’ cousin, marijuana. But of course, there is no THC in the fast-growing plant, which instead has a variety of uses, including – but not limited to – skincare, building materials, clothing and nutritional supplements. 

    © Provided by Newshub

    But it’s not just a useful tool for a variety of lifestyle products. It also may be the answer to a lot of the country’s farming woes. 

    Brad Lake, co-founder of hemp product supplier The Brothers Green, was previously based in more traditional farming pursuits, starting as a Canterbury rural banker a few years ago, during “the worst downturn the dairy industry had ever seen”. 

    It was repeated rugby shoulder injuries and a long recovery period, Lake says, that “immediately highlighted the role that nutrition played – food in particular”. That was teamed with a general and professional interest in the agriculture industry. 

    “I started to do research into hemp and it kept coming up as a solution to some of the issues we were seeing in the farming sector,” he tells Newshub. “The environmental impact, the diversification of products, farmers being not solely reliant on a single source of income…”

    After meeting his now-business partner who was selling hemp protein powder, Lake says the two realised they both shared frustrations over the fact local farmers were interested in hemp, “but there was nowhere for it to be processed”. 

    “We saw an aligned vision and said ‘let’s start a hemp industry’. And I’ve been absolutely infatuated with it ever since.

    “It’s fantastic to see a massive shift in the general public’s perception.”

    New Zealand – particularly the South Island – has a fantastic climate for growing hemp. Heavy rainfall and long summer sunshine hours mean crops can boom here – they just need the room. Earlier this year, Lake helped organise a hemp farm open day in Culverden, to showcase the farmers and businesses growing and using hemp to about 100 Christchurch residents who bussed in to see the crop. Soon after, the country’s first hemp processing plant, Mainland Hemp, opened down the road. 

    © Provided by Newshub

    Lake says while the concept is still fairly new, there’s keen interest from the farming community – especially those feeling disillusioned or vilified after last years’ move by the Government forcing farmers to publicly address the pollution of waterways and greenhouse gas emissions. 

    As many farming commentators observed, it appeared to paint dairy farmers in particular as being responsible for wilful environmental degradation – and of course, endeared them no further with animal rights activists. 

    “What the general public often fails to realise, is specifically in the dairy sector farmers were given consent to farm cows and distribute affluent and nitrogen. And now they’re being told that’s the wrong move,” says Lake. “They were told what to do and now they’ve had the rug pulled out from under them.  

    “From our perspective there really needs to be more loving solutions to these problems – a lot of our farming industry are facing high levels of debt and often not a lot of resources on the ground.” 

    One farmer that has made that very switch is fourth-generation Reefton dairy farmer Aaron Silcock, who along with his partner Sarah Gibson founded hemp company Larry’s Gold. 

    “Aaron was raised on this farm by his grandparents… a few years ago after lots of research he decided to adopt a plant-based diet for his health,” Gibson tells Newshub. 

    Also passionate about health, Gibson says she too moved to a plant-based diet after meeting the dairy farmer. 

    “My health and fitness improved immensely and I have never looked back,” she says.

    © Provided by Newshub

    But Gibson says the result was that the pair struggled with the fact that their income was coming from dairy, given their views on both its impact on the environment and on the body. 

    That’s when hemp came into the picture. The pair began growing the plant which Gibson says has over 50,000 uses. 

    “We wanted something that ticks all the boxes: a healthy product, no need to exploit animals and environmentally sustainable,” she says. 

    The birth of their daughter in 2018 further encouraged the couple’s mission, and now Gibson says while they’re still in their “transition” from the dairy industry, they’re on a journey to be completely farm to plate. . 

    “This season will be our fourth season growing, however we are still very grassroots,” she says. “It’s a very small team just the two of us mainly on the hemp operations with some help from our dairy farm 2IC. We have just employed another part-time worker on the dairy operation so we can focus more on the hemp.” 

    Gibson says they “truly believe that it is a plant that can save the planet”. 

    “It can grow anywhere without the need for herbicides, pesticides and requires far less water than traditional crops. Its deep root structure helps hold the soil together and its high level of nutrients helps to remediate the soil, rejuvenating it for the next season.”

    While there’s currently a shift towards using more organic products in New Zealand farming, Gibson explains a large portion of the dairy sector still use a lot of synthetic fertilisers, toxic sprays and excessive amounts of nitrogen – all of which have a negative impact on our environment and soils in which our food is grown. 

    “Over time we are slowly killing everything off, which has been proven to have a negative impact not only on the environment, but human health as well,” she says. 

    “In a nutshell hemp is far more sustainable – there is no need to kill animals, damage the environment or exploit our oceans to meet our daily dietary requirements. 

    “This is because hemp can grow almost anywhere without using fertilisers, herbicides or pesticides and needs far less water than traditional grain crops.” 

    Farmers similarly interested in transitioning to growing hemp must apply to the Ministry of Health for a permit to cultivate, deal, breed, import or sell viable seed, and must pay a fee of NZ$511 per license. 

    But in a clear sign of the shifting attitude, they no longer need to call their crop an “experiment”. 

    By Sarah Templeton


    Photo:”>Hand photo created by jcomp –

    With the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic felt far and wide, almost all countries are now in combat mode: issuing and implementing various policies to stop the spread and to cushion the impacts on the economy and people’s livelihood.

    For that purpose, governments have allocated more than US$12 trillion in the form of direct budget support, loan and equity injections, guarantees and other incentives. According to Energy Policy Tracker only a small fraction of $88 billion is aimed at clean energy, which is only half than stimulus for fossil fuels.

    Learning from the past recession, there will be a spike in human and industrial activity post-crisis along with a bounce back in the economy. Carbon emissions dropped 1.4 percent in 2009 after the 2008 financial crisis, but rose 5.1 percent in 2010.

    While many have prematurely celebrated the predicted 8 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions this year, the world needs to remain watchful.

    Green growth, as a means of doing the best for people and the planet, has been proven to be economically effective, particularly in response to crisis. The International Energy Agency (IEA) highlighted how green stimulus programs in response to the 2008-2009 economic crisis had played an important role in recovering the economy in China, Japan, Korea and the European Union.

    A recent study from Oxford University, co-authored by prominent experts including environmental economist Cameron Hepburn and Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz, also found large support for green economic measures from the respondents of the study (central bankers, finance ministers and academics). Their key question did not solely mention climate targets, but also the speed of implementation, long-run economic multiplier and policy desirability. Clean energy policies, particularly clean energy R&D, infrastructure and clean connectivity infrastructure, were listed in the top 10 desired recovery policies, considered having large long-run multipliers and a strong positive impact on the climate. Just last month, the IEA also issued its Sustainable Recovery Report, echoing the need to push for climate-oriented recovery and to “build back better”.

    The Asian Development Bank (ADB) predicted that Indonesia’s economy would grow 2.5 percent in 2020, a stark contrast to 5 percent growth last year. Economic growth in the second quarter is negative and future growth remains bleak.

    Undoubtedly, the Indonesian government needs to disburse economic stimulus to create growth. The growing voice to encourage greener measures, however, has yet to resonate in Indonesia. The government has designated Rp 695.2 trillion ($48 billion) for COVID-19 measures and economic stimulus packages, yet none was allocated to green stimulus.

    Vivid Economics has been reviewing the “greenness” of 17 major economies’ COVID-19 stimulus injected into sectors that have long-term impacts on nature, and it suggested that Indonesia’s stimulus falls into the “brown” category (and has the lowest score), dominated by support for the high-carbon industry and energy sector.

    Indonesia should opt for renewable energy for economic development, particularly in this difficult time and to reduce future greenhouse gas emissions. Currently, the share of renewable energy in Indonesia’s power sector is only 2 percent of total potential – a result of intertwining factors: a lack of consistent and supportive policies, market barriers, as well as concerns about human resources and grid readiness.

    Solar energy, with the highest potential (of more than 200 GW nationwide), has yet to boom despite the global trend showing the exact opposite. Benefiting from massive deployment globally and a sharp decline in technology prices, solar energy could play an instrumental role in reviving Indonesia’s economy – and by extension, opening the doors to rapidly develop other renewables, keeping on track with our national energy target and climate pledge.

    The Jakarta Post reported on June 19 that the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry was working on a $1 billion solar program. It targets 1 gigawatt-peak (GWp) annual installations of rooftop solar for households receiving electricity subsidies. If prepared and implemented properly, this national solar program could be the answer to Indonesia’s absence in disbursing green stimulus: providing energy safety nets, boosting domestic solar industry and creating employment.

    We estimate that this program could generate up to 30,000 green jobs per annum, much needed to fill in the gaps in recovering the economy.

    The program is only one form of strategy for green economic recovery, and it is clearly not sufficient. As Indonesia aims to reach a 23 percent share of renewable energy in the primary energy mix by 2025, an additional $3 billion to $5 billion investment (in the renewable energy sector alone) is required. Building gigawatt solar plants and rooftop solar could be the fastest way to meet this target in due time. Unfortunately, Indonesia’s renewable energy investment attractiveness is pretty low.

    The long-awaited presidential regulation on renewable tariffs and procurement of renewables, as well as the newly announced cooperation between the IEA and Indonesia should come to aid, as they are expected to increase investment attractiveness. Financing support for residential and commercial solar installation could also spur interest in installing rooftop solar, along with removing barriers to connect rooftop solar to state electricity company PLN’s grid.    

    Given the opportunity and the potential, we call on President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo to set green economic recovery strategies and to take the lead in accelerating energy transition in Indonesia. Putting the stimulus money into fossil fuels and dirty industry is not an option.

    The pandemic has given us an opportunity to rethink our development, and we cannot just do business as usual. Carpe diem.


    Photo: The 600 kWp solar power plant on Gili Trawangan island in Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara on Feb. 22, 2019 . Credit: PLN/PLN