The Case for Standardizing Reporting and Benchmarking Yield in CEA Services – City Ag Information

By Jenn Frymark and Charu Sharma

The Managed Surroundings Agriculture (CEA) trade is rising quickly, pushed by the rising demand for recent, sustainable and regionally grown produce globally. Because the trade continues to evolve and undertake new applied sciences, it’s important to standardize reporting metrics. This not solely will enhance the general trade output by setting benchmarks for greatest practices and working procedures but additionally will drive the adoption of environment friendly applied sciences and methods that may enhance efficiency.

Yield is a key determinant of enterprise income and a strong metric for evaluating the efficiency of a facility. It may be measured in numerous methods making it troublesome to check and benchmark points resembling varieties, applied sciences, and operational procedures throughout the trade. Internally, organizations seemingly have a wide range of metrics to measure yield that vary from whole biomass manufacturing to models or circumstances produced and bought per week. Nevertheless, to check yield throughout numerous forms of know-how inside the leafy greens CEA trade, it is very important have a typical reporting unit.

Yield expressed as kilograms per sq. meter per yr or kilos per sq. toes per yr is a measurement that permit for an goal view of general efficiency that’s detached to the rising technique, know-how choice, plant weight, plant density, plant age at the time of harvest, and crop turns all year long.  Such a measurement additionally is beneficial when evaluating CEA to outside discipline manufacturing, which is usually reported by way of tons per acre per yr.

The greenhouse tomato trade offers a very good mannequin to comply with in relation to yield reporting. Growers on this trade usually report yield as kilograms per sq. meter per yr for all areas beneath glass. This contains your complete rising compartment, together with walkways, and doesn’t embrace non-growing areas of the ability resembling packing and storage. The yield is annualized to account for downtime throughout cleansing, seasonal modifications in manufacturing, interplanting influences on harvest, and different components that may affect whole annual manufacturing. When evaluating yields, it is very important take into account on a regular basis and space wanted to develop the plant.  Whereas most massive greenhouse tomato growers don’t produce their very own transplants, if we had been to check this yield to a grower that does produce transplants, the time and space required for transplant manufacturing must be considered for a good comparability.

Equally, for the leafy greens CEA trade, it is very important measure the whole annual biomass harvested, excluding roots, over your complete space required throughout every stage of progress – from germination to harvesting mature crops. This offers a extra correct image of the operation’s general productiveness and generally is a worthwhile information level for evaluating efficiency.

The leafy greens CEA trade is stuffed with innovation and this technique of yield benchmarking is efficacious throughout many types of manufacturing – from single layer greenhouses to multi-layer vertical farms. To check the efficiency throughout totally different rising techniques, it is very important estimate the annualized yield over the 2D floor flooring space of the rising compartment for the greenhouse or vertical farm. This flooring space ought to embrace all the pieces within the climate-controlled compartment, together with walkways and all areas wanted from seed to mature plant. When a number of layers are utilized in manufacturing, there might be a bigger whole cover space in comparison with the ground space. In these circumstances, it’s nonetheless really useful to make use of the 2D floor flooring space. There might be variation between some growers as to the place sure tools, resembling seeding tools, is positioned and whether or not it’s captured within the climate-controlled space or assist/technical buildings.  What’s secret is to concentrate on these nuances when making comparisons.

The dearth of standardization shouldn’t be intentional. As mentioned on this article, standardization in CEA reporting is a posh matter with a number of components and approaches. In most industries, regulatory necessities and certifications create incentives to standardize reporting. This has regularly began within the CEA trade with the Sustainability Accounting Requirements Board explicitly requiring candidates to reveal the world beneath energetic manufacturing and the whole facility space; nevertheless, extra constant reporting is required for the requirements to turn out to be efficient.

As CEA manufacturing turns into extra mainstream, constructing a standardized measurement system might be very important to know greatest practices and to guage the financial viability of latest manufacturing strategies. This additionally impacts how we measure the sustainability of various CEA amenities by way of power consumption, water consumption, and carbon footprint. With the federal authorities tightening the local weather danger evaluation course of and the U.S. Securities and Change Fee introducing a proposal to standardize climate-related disclosures, cleansing up reporting and benchmarking practices has by no means been extra necessary.

Jenn Frymark is the Chief Greenhouse Officer for Gotham Greens.

Charu Sharma is the Chief of Employees to the Chief Greenhouse Officer and Environmental Sustainability Lead for Gotham Greens.

About Gotham Greens

Gotham Greens is an indoor farming firm and recent meals model on a mission to remodel the best way we method our meals system, placing individuals and the planet on the forefront. Gotham Greens produces and delivers long-lasting and scrumptious leafy greens, herbs, salad dressings, dips and cooking sauces all yr spherical to retail, restaurant and foodservice prospects. A Licensed B Company™, Gotham Greens sustainably grows high-quality produce utilizing as much as 95% much less water and 97% much less land than typical farming by its nationwide community of climate-controlled, high-tech greenhouses. Since its launch in 2011, Gotham Greens has grown from a single city rooftop greenhouse in Brooklyn, N.Y., to one of many largest hydroponic leafy inexperienced producers in North America. By 2023, Gotham Greens will personal and function 13 high-tech, climate-controlled hydroponic greenhouses, totaling greater than 40 acres (1.8 million sq. toes) throughout 9 states. Gotham Greens merchandise can be found in additional than 3,000 grocery shops nationwide.