This episode of Over the Edge features an interview between Matt Trifiro and Keith Bradley, Vice President Information Technology at Nature Fresh Farms.
Keith is leveraging Edge technology in Nature Fresh Farm’s automated greenhouses. In these highly controlled environments, Keith’s team is able to monitor plant weight, growth, irrigation, nutrient absorption, and more. This allows them to automate systems that get plants what they need, exactly when they need it, to help increase their yield. In this conversation, Keith explains how this makes them resilient to changes in weather and climate, and outlines the many metrics they monitor during the planting and growing process. Keith also provides predictions on the increased focus on technology in agriculture, taking into account climate change, as well as land, water and food scarcity.
“It's the exact opposite of farming how you usually think of it, where you've always got the farmers waiting on rain and hoping for more rain, or hoping for less rain. We basically control our environment top to bottom.”
“We have to control everything, from how much nutrient the plant gets, how much light it gets, how much CO2 it gets, the biocontainment of it. We control and monitor every aspect of that plant's life.”
“That's always been my goal is to eventually get to the point where now a grower isn't proactively doing something to the greenhouse, the AI is proactively telling them, this is what you should do.”
“I find the more that we can do analyzing data at the edge, the better we get. It is when we're waiting for information to get from the edge to the core, to the cloud, and you're waiting for it to get up there to analyze it, that we missed that opportunity.”
“We don't get affected by weather change. The average weather goes up by a couple degrees, it doesn't affect us the same way as it does a field farmer. Drought doesn't affect us the same way. All those things just don't affect us. In about three or four more years, I can see it starting to get more of a highlight, and more of a ‘we need this and we need to focus on this.’”
(02:30) Keith’s start in technology
(03:41) Inside Nature Fresh Farm’s greenhouses
(07:19) Technology around the plants
(08:14) Automatic functions in the greenhouses
(10:30) Data they collect and where it goes
(12:59) Amount of data they collect
(14:00) Using data to improve business
(16:25) Measuring taste factors
(18:00) Empowering the growers to use data
(20:36) Digital transformation in agriculture
(21:47) Experiments in the greenhouses
(23:11) Tracking products after they leave the farm
(26:00) The edge and product consistency
(28:41) Creating a unique taste as a competitive advantage
(30:48) IT and grower collaboration
(32:00) Keith’s approach to edge and the cloud
(37:00) Keith’s technology wishlist
(40:00) Where Keith wants to see innovation in greenhouses
(42:00) How far are we from a fully automated greenhouse?
(43:54) Emerging importance of tech in agriculture
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To learn more about how Nature Fresh Farm’s is leveraging Edge technology, please visit:
Nature Fresh Farms / Dell Case Study: https://www.dell.com/en-us/dt/case-studies-customer-stories/index.htm#sort=%40desfirstpublishdate%20descending&numberOfResults=15&pdf-overlay=%2F%2Fwww.delltechnologies.com%2Fasset%2Fen-us%2Fsolutions%2Fbusiness-solutions%2Fcustomer-stories-case-studies%2Fnature-fresh-farms-cultivates-the-future-of-agriculture-at-the-edge.pdf
Nature Fresh Farms / Dell Customer Stories Video: https://www.dell.com/en-us/dt/case-studies-customer-stories/index.htm#sort=%40desfirstpublishdate%20descending&numberOfResults=15&video-overlay=6311527828112
Follow Matt on Twitter: https://twitter.com/mtrifiro
Connect with Keith on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/keith-bradley-76105049/