Big Grower November 2021 - 3

Controlled Environment
Food Growing Operations
Incorporating a harvesting robot as a supplement to the people working in a greenhouse can help guarantee the harvests are completed in a timely manner.
(Photos: AppHarvest)
AppHarvest is developing harvesting robots to pick tomatoes in its 60-acre
greenhouse operation, along with computer vision and data collection to
increase production efficiencies, quality and yields.
ppHarvest began harvesting tomatoes out of its new 60-acre
greenhouse operation in Morehead, Kentucky, in January. The
company is expected to harvest about 40 million pounds of
tomatoes annually from this facility. The greenhouses contain about
720,000 tomato plants, consisting of a mix of beefsteak and tomatoes-onthe-vine.
company is also expanding its controlled environment food
production in the state with a 15-acre facility in Berea, Kentucky, which
will produce leafy greens, and a 60-acre facility outside Richmond,
Kentucky, which is expected to grow tomatoes.
In April, AppHarvest acquired Root AI, an artificial intelligence startup
that designs intelligent robots for use in high-tech indoor farms. With
this acquisition came Root AI's robotic universal harvester, Virgo.
Root AI co-founder and CEO Josh Lessing has become chief technology
officer at AppHarvest.
" I have a two-fold role with AppHarvest, " Lessing says. " My major
role is to run TechCo, which will contain AppHarvest's key technologies
including proprietary FarmOps, robotic harvesting capability and AI/
machine learning for growing. TechCo also has the potential to develop
a new revenue stream through licensing of CEA technology to global
operators. "
He says TechCo is a subsidiary of AppHarvest that is focused on
new technology for greenhouses. " We are very committed to CEA and
see a bright future in expanding its capabilities. My team is focused
predominantly on enterprise software, artificial intelligence and robotics
to drive new kinds of efficiencies. The other part of my role is more
broadly the technical operations manager for the broader farming
company. "
Lessing says one of the biggest reasons to incorporate robots into
controlled environment production operations is resilience.
" Harvesting is a very time-sensitive activity, " he says. " If a grower
misses the moment of harvest, then all the effort and expense that has

Big Grower November 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Big Grower November 2021

Big Grower November 2021 - 1
Big Grower November 2021 - 2
Big Grower November 2021 - 3
Big Grower November 2021 - 4
Big Grower November 2021 - 5
Big Grower November 2021 - 6
Big Grower November 2021 - 7
Big Grower November 2021 - 8
Big Grower November 2021 - 9
Big Grower November 2021 - 10
Big Grower November 2021 - 11
Big Grower November 2021 - 12