From the start, Ljusgårda has always aimed to expand its operations. Coming from a 7000 m2 operation, the company is hoping to expand to its 18,000 m2 facility by the end of the year. VerticalFarmDaily was invited for a tour at the recently opened facility in Tibro. Currently, Ljusgårda now produces 20 tons of leafy greens per month. Within a couple of months, the company will triple its production hitting 60 tons per month.
‘Walking through the system’
The propagation room is home to 294,400 plants at full capacity. From seeding to transplanting, the crops will stay there for 14 days. In the middle of the growing racks, there’s an alley which allows for easy access to every single plant in the system, for easy inspections and maintenance. “As of now transplanting is done manually, however, soon a full line including two robot arms will take over,” says Erik Lundgren, co-founder of Ljusgårda. “The robot will help us become even more profitable. At this point, we’re automating more and more processes throughout the farm.”
At Ljusgårda’s facility, there are three different growing zones divided into 15 rooms that currently produces 20 tons monthly. The growing units are attached to a system that moves them from station to station when its time for inspection, harvesting or any other process during the growth cycle . Whereas, in the cultivation area Ljusgårda are already inspecting the growing units automatically, using smart plant cameras that measures and collects plant data on regular basis. In a soon future the collected data will be used to inspect plant health regularly and together with machine learning algorithms also improve and optimize yields.
At Ljusgårda the crops are harvested at least twice, to obtain the highest productivity and growth. Once the crops are ready for harvest, they’ll be brought to the ‘harvesting room’ through the automated conveyor system. In the harvesting area, all greens are cut and directly led to the conveyor belt that will lead them to a sorting and weighing machine to finally reach the packaging stage. “As well as the robots, we have an automated harvesting machine ready to start from next week on,” says Erik. “By the end of this year we will harvest and sell over 250 000 bags of lettuce every week.”
Once the cut lettuce has reached the conveyor belt, each leaf is checked by a wide range of cameras in the sorting machine. If a leaf shows insufficient quality, it’s taken out of the production belt through high pressure air that ‘shoots’ it away. At the top of the automated conveyor system, the lettuce is weighed by a machine and eventually approved for packing. Once it has reached the exact weight of 60 grams, it’s lead to the packaging machine and ready for distribution. Over 600 pallets of lettuce will leave Ljusgårda to be distributed to over 800 stores weekly.