This Company Says Its Intellectual Property Could Be A Key To Next-Generation Greenhouses

Photo by Francesco Gallarotti on Unsplash

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Agriculture uses half of the world’s habitable land and 70% of the world’s freshwater withdrawals, according to Our World Data, an organization that focuses on world problems such as hunger, climate change and poverty. 

But one company reports that it is trying to increase crop yields with minimal environmental impact through its proprietary controlled-environment agriculture system.

Vancouver, British Columbia-based AgriFORCE Growing Systems Ltd. AGRI says it spent more than five years developing the AgriFORCE GrowHouse, associated technologies and standard operating procedures. AgriFORCE’s proprietary design is meant to promote significant yield gains compared to most traditional indoor growing environments.

The intellectual property (IP)-focused agtech company has applied for patents in the U.S. and Canada for its structures used for growing plants.

“Conventional greenhouses have numerous drawbacks,” AgriFORCE President Troy McClellan said. “They are often inefficient and do not provide an ideal environment for plants to reach their full genetic potential.”

Conventional greenhouses use columns and trusses that create shade and make it difficult to optimize automated systems. AgriFORCE’s system is more cost-effective, energy-efficient and allows for increased growing area, allowing for increased yield, McClellan said. 

The patent application highlights design elements of the GrowHouse structure and operational systems that allow Internet-of-Things technologies, automation and the use of artificial intelligence (AI). Its transmissive panels are made to maximize the full light spectrum, and enhanced insulation to improve energy efficiency. 

AgriFORCE says its IP is designed to deliver the highest yields with the lowest environmental impact and is guided by four pillars:

  • Facility and lighting design
  • Automation and artificial intelligence
  • Fertigation and nutrients
  • Micropropagation and genetics

“The overall market feedback on our facilities has been encouraging given the expected improved yields and operating economics,” AgriFORCE CEO Ingo Mueller said.

Acquiring IP?

In March, AgriFORCE announced a binding LOI to acquire Deroose Plants NV, one of the largest tissue culture propagation companies in the world. The $69 million purchase price represents about $46.4 million for the Deroose business on a cash and debt-free basis and $22 million for the IP portfolio. 

AgriFORCE states that the planned acquisition strengthens its integrated agtech business model by providing a leading position in tissue culture propagation and plant cultivation, including a robust IP portfolio aimed at delivering increased crop yields for plantation crops such as rubber, and palm with a reduced environmental footprint. 

“We believe this positions AgriFORCE and Deroose to deliver value by maximizing the sustainability and productivity of available land, especially in tropical climates,” Mueller said. “In addition, we believe Deroose’s IP provides significant barriers to entry to potential competitors, given the robust patent estate and typical timelines to research and develop such processes, which could easily exceed a decade.”

The company looks to mergers and acquisitions to continue to fuel its growth, as it competes with other agtech companies like Corteva Inc. CTA, McCormick & Co. Inc. MKC and Bunge Ltd. BG.

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