Greenhouse lettuce grower Revol Greens today unveiled a proprietary plant-based nutrient source with which it can feed the plants in its indoor farms. Dubbed Plant Fed, the product is currently patent pending, and its existence on Revol’s farms means leafy greens will be fed entirely by plants and not with animal ingredients, as is often the case with fertilizer.
Revol raised a $68 million funding round in September 2020 to build out its network of greenhouses. Currently, the company operates a 10-acre greenhouse in its hometown of Owatonna, Minnesota. Two more facilities, one in California and one in Texas, are slated to open in 2021.
The Revol process relies on as much automation as possible, though not necessarily of the robotics variety. Machines automatically sow the seeds in grow trays, which are then moved from the germination room to the greenhouse via a water flume and placed in a massive pools of water with their roots exposed. Human hands pick up the trays to move them from sowing machine to flume then out of the water pools, but people never touch the actual plants.
Meanwhile, much of the farm’s water source comes from UV-sterilized rainwater and snowmelt collected from the roof of the facility. This is an improvement over traditional farming, where produce often shares a water source with nearby animals, thus upping the risk of contamination to the plants.
Like other hydroponic-based operations, Revol’s method grows plants without any soil. Instead, the new Plant Fed nutrient source will be pumped into the water that is circulated into the pools in which plant roots are exposed.
“The plant-based natural fertilizer developed by our research and development team is an extension of our goal to provide the healthiest, most natural leafy greens to our customers,” Revol’s CEO Mark Schulze said in today’s press release.
Revol is certainly not alone in that goal, with recent activity in the high-tech greenhouse space underscoring the sector’s possibilities when it comes to future farming. Gotham Greens raised $87 million for its own greenhouse network at the end of 2020, and of course there was the news of AppHarvest going public earlier this year.
Revol’s Plant Fed nutrient is only feeding the greens in the company’s own facility for now. Whether the company ever decides to sell its product to other controlled ag operations remains to be seen.