Leading CEA Producers Join with Resource Innovation Institute to Support Data-Driven USDA Project Advancing Sustainable Controlled Environment Agriculture

Derek Smith, Executive Director, RESOURCE INNOVATION INSTITUTE

Four leading agricultural producers have joined with nonprofit Resource Innovation Institute (RII) under the banner of its USDA Conservation Innovation Grant-funded project: Data-Driven Market Transformation for Efficient, Sustainable Controlled Environment Agriculture.

AppHarvest (Ky.) and Revol Greens (Texas) are vanguards of modern greenhouse cultivation, while Elevate Farms (N.J.) and Fifth Season (Penn.) are pioneers in vertical farming. The producers will serve as initial pilot partners in support of the USDA-funded project that aims to transform the controlled environment agriculture (CEA) market sector toward more efficient production through coordinated research on energy and water practices spearheaded by RII and the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE).

“We are thrilled to unite with these category leaders in the name of innovation and agricultural resilience,” said Derek Smith, Executive Director of RII. “Working together with these initial pilot partners and others to follow, we can unlock basic knowledge about performance metrics that will serve as beacons of efficiency and productivity for CEA producers globally.”

In addition to geographic diversity, the producers represent an expanding global market growing a range of crops in indoor environments, from microgreens to tomatoes to berries.

“The indoor agriculture industry has a shared vision of bringing consumers fresher and safer food that’s grown with less land, water, and energy. Our partnership with the USDA and Resource Innovation Institute is providing growers like Fifth Season with critical benchmarking and insights that will allow us to maximize our resource efficiency and sustainability,” said Grant Vandenbussche, Chief Category Officer, Fifth Season.

Revol Greens CFO Tom Thompson echoed those thoughts. “At Revol Greens, our mission is to grow a fresher, safer, more nutritious product for our consumers.  Sustainability and our impact on the plant is as important to our team as profitability and growth.  Measuring all aspects of our progress towards minimizing our footprint is at the core of this, and we are honored to be affiliated with Resource Innovation Institute and the USDA on this pilot to achieve these goals,” Thompson said.

Resource Innovation Institute’s PowerScore resource benchmarking platform enables CEA producers to confidentially validate their innovative practices. Using standardized key performance indicators, PowerScore helps producers gain powerful insights into their operational performance while protecting strategic business interests.

“RII is trusted throughout the supply chain to provide data analysis and peer-reviewed guidance to producers, vendors, governments and utilities. Our consortium of members and partners are committed to collaboratively study the most sustainable horticultural practices across climate zones, building types, technologies and techniques to guide decision-makers on how to advance agricultural resilience,” said RII’s Smith.

“AppHarvest’s mission to build a resilient food system is based on leveraging data-driven technology including AI to produce significantly higher volumes of fruits and vegetables using drastically fewer resources, and this USDA-funded study with Resource Innovation Institute is a fantastic opportunity to continue to learn how to optimize growing conditions to be as efficient as possible,” said Jonathan Webb, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, AppHarvest.

To ensure the highest level of PowerScore data protection, RII has engaged Management Science Associates (MSA), global leaders in data security and analytics, with expertise in HIPAA compliance and benchmarking for associations across industries. Together with producers, investors and supply chain partners, RII continues to develop protocols that clearly define access, use and ownership of data.

“We believe that the only way to fundamentally build an industry starts with data capture and accountability,” said Travis Kanellos, Chief Strategy Officer, Elevate Farms. “Our approach from day one has been to drive yields and profitability through industry leading metrics and KPIs. We believe RII will validate not only our approach but lead the industry.”

About the Project Partners

Resource Innovation Institute is a non-profit organization committed to cultivating a better future for all of humanity. Its consortium of members brings perspectives from across the field—uniting architects and engineers, growers and operators, researchers and analysts. Together, they lead the measurement, adoption and celebration of the world’s most efficient agricultural ideas. Learn more at resourceinnovation.org.

AppHarvest is an applied technology company in Appalachia building some of the world’s largest high-tech indoor farms that grow non-GMO, chemical pesticide-free produce using up to 90 percent less water than open-field agriculture and only recycled rainwater while producing yields up to 30 times that of traditional agriculture on the same amount of land with zero agricultural runoff. The company combines conventional agricultural techniques with cutting-edge technology including artificial intelligence and robotics to improve access for all to nutritious food, farm more sustainably, build a more reliable domestic food supply, and increase investment in Appalachia. The company’s 60-acre Morehead, Ky. facility is among the largest indoor farms in the world. Learn more at www.appharvest.com.

Fifth Season is delivering an entirely new category of hyper-local, fresh food with their ready-to-eat salads and sustainable leafy greens grown inside their proprietary vertical farms. Leveraging their industry-leading robotics and AI, Fifth Season has 2x the capacity and 1/2 the production cost of traditional vertical farms. Fifth Season’s products are available in over 150 retail locations across Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana. For more information on Fifth Season, its game-changing technology and produce, visit www.fifthseasonfresh.com.

Elevate Farms is a technology- and IP-based indoor farm that produces traditional farm grown equivalent products at wholesale market price with a global footprint. Learn more at elevate.farm.

Revol Greens is the largest greenhouse lettuce grower in North America. The Minnesota-based company harvests and delivers its packaged lettuce products within one day, resulting in the freshest taste and peak nutrition with a shelf life four to six days longer than out-of-state greens. For more information, visit www.revolgreens.com.