"We are seeing increased demand and are focusing on North America,” says Dan Schmidt, President of HydroGreen, during the CubicFarms AMPLIFIED event, “while we continue fielding international inquiries from farmers and investors searching for a solution to growing more using less land, water, energy, and physical labor.”
CubicFarms HydroGreen is a Canadian supplier of local agtech and offers two automated indoor growing technologies: one for growing fresh food in the CubicFarm System, and one for growing nutritious fresh livestock feed in the HydroGreen Grow System.
Whereas the main benefits are harvesting daily in any climate and 365 days a year, automated indoor agtech grows from seed to super feed in six days, and the system uses significantly less land and 90% less water, with zero pesticides or fertilizer.
Moving from outdoor to indoors
CubicFarms and HydroGreen technologies were founded by farmers. "We are focused on growing wheat and barley in the patented, automated system, which was designed for farmers facing water scarcity in areas with low precipitation."
The company is collecting more data on animal health and performance improvements, especially in beef and dairy cows, with ongoing studies.
“What dairy nutritionists and farmers are looking for is consistency, and this system provides live, high-quality fresh animal feed on the farm every day,” said Dan. He adds that the type of feed can be altered, depending on whether the animals are pre-calving, calving, milking, or dry.
Consistency is the number one concern for farm business owners, and a close second is dealing with the uncertainties of outdoor growing. “In Colorado, you can’t drill or move a well, or even collect rainwater,” said Dan, commenting on state regulations and policies around water, especially in the U.S. Midwest, are tightening as access to it becomes tougher.
The technology gives the seed great conditions to grow in six days within an indoor climate-controlled environment. HydroGreen’s plant science and animal performance teams work with the Farmer Partners (customers) using this technology to choose the seeds that will perform the best in the HydroGreen Grow System.
Savings and additional value depend on several variables, specific to each farm. Dan explains that, for example, growing feed with HydroGreen Vertical Pastures (12 commercial-scale HydroGreen Grow System modules) can grow up to 25 million lbs of fresh feed every year. This replaces 500 acres of farmland, which is the equivalent of 380 football fields. It can also save up to 500 million gallons of water every year compared to irrigated crops: enough water to give one glass to every person on the planet.
Cattle enjoying their food
Cattle need a well-balanced ration of fiber, grains, proteins, vitamins, and minerals, with plenty of fresh water, explains Dan. HydroGreen is a super feed for cows because it is highly digestible (90%), and is full of enzymes, vitamins, and energy that promote performance and health. The HydroGreen Grow System is made by sprouting wheat and barley seeds.
Contributing to a healthier environment
University research published by Canadian Science Publishing in FACETS, the official journal of the Royal Society of Canada’s Academy of Science, confirmed that using HydroGreen reduces greenhouse gas emissions. CubicFarms is interested in contributing to climate mitigation objectives within the agriculture industry and reducing long supply chains by localizing food and feed production.
Growing process: from seed to harvest
Imagine a fully automated indoor hydroponic system with eight vertically stacked growing surfaces. One person at the control touch screen does everything with the push of a button, with automated seeding, watering, lighting, and HVAC controls for temperature and humidity. Farmers can grow at different rates on each level, allowing farmers to harvest fresh feed daily in any climate, year-round.
On day six, automated conveyors roll the feed out along an automated conveyor, like a roll of fresh green carpet, for harvesting and shredding. This is mixed in with the daily ration and delivered to the cows (or water buffalo, or other livestock).