“Among the leafy microgreens and baby greens we harvest daily, we are also cultivating massive amounts of data,” says Barry Murchie, Chief Executive Officer of GoodLeaf Farms, Canada’s leading commercial vertical farm. “Data is our most valuable asset and is revolutionizing the way we farm.”
GoodLeaf’s farms — its flagship farm in Guelph, Ont., two currently under construction in Calgary and Montreal — are outfitted with a complex and interconnected system of cameras and sensors to optimize and harmonize all aspects of the farm, including the density and distribution of seeds, the depth and consistency of the growing medium, the amount of time in germination, temperature control, humidity, nutrient loads and recipes, light intensity and spectrum, the CO2 in the grow room and airflow.
In partnership with data and analytics firm Adastra, GoodLeaf has integrated Microsoft Azure Synapse Analytics and Microsoft Power Platform to manage and best use the vast amounts of data collected at the farm. The efficiency and scalability of the Azure cloud platform offer valuable opportunities for GoodLeaf, helping improve the quality and yield of its crops.
“Microsoft has the resources to assist our evolving industry, and that’s very important for us,” says Mr. Murchie. “We’re engaged in pioneering efforts in the vertical farming industry and working with Microsoft Azure products and services to help us succeed.”
In addition, GoodLeaf is collaborating with Microsoft Research to explore ways the data collected at GoodLeaf can help Microsoft expand its FarmVibes.AI program to provide additional value for crops grown using controlled environment agriculture.
“Data-driven agriculture will shape the farm of the future,” says Ranveer Chandra, Managing Director, Research for Industry, Microsoft. “Passionate, innovative farms like GoodLeaf who are using next-gen Microsoft tech are helping to build a more productive, cost-effective and sustainable model for the farmers of tomorrow.”
With the support of tools like Azure, GoodLeaf is looking at future projects that include growing existing plant varieties with higher nutrient values than conventional open-field farming can achieve. GoodLeaf horticulturalists are analyzing the genetic potential of those seeds to learn how to configure growing conditions to extract the maximum nutritional value — for example using all-natural processes to grow spinach with more Vitamin K.
“When you don’t have to worry about pests, disease and weather, you can focus more on nutrition and flavor,” says Mr. Murchie. “Through our work with Microsoft, we can unlock the full genetic potential of seeds.”
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