Soli Organic (previously known as Shenandoah Growers) is an agriculture company that operates indoor growing operations to produce organic culinary herbs. Today, the company announced two new partnerships with Rutgers University and AI/IoT company Koidra that will help enhance its cost advantage and increase the accessibility and affordability of its products.
In the multi-year partnership with Rutgers University, Soli Organic will work with plant breeding experts from the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences. The focus of the collaboration is to optimize the nutrition, flavor, aroma, and yields of selected crops. Additionally, the partners will research what crops that are not feasible for outdoor production but are potentially viable for commercial production in an indoor growing operation.
While leafy greens and herbs are often the most popular types of crops grown via indoor cultivation, there is vast potential for additional crops in this space. Dr. James (Jim) Simon, the Director of the Rutgers New Use Agriculture and Natural Plant Products Program, said, “Of the over 400,000 plant species on the planet, we consume less than 100. We have not even scratched the surface of the different flavors and textures of plants. What will be key to a sustainable future is identifying plants that offer consumers the highest nutrient density combined with flavor, texture and shelf appeal, and the lowest possible environmental impact.”
With Koidra’s artificial intelligence and machine learning technology, Soli Organic intends to automate the operation of its growing facilities. This technology will not necessarily replace human growers, but streamline operations and allow growers to make data-informed decisions. In a greenhouse setting, Koidra use of artificial intelligence, data collection, and sensing technology is able to increase yields, profitability, and consistency.
“Soli Organic is relentless in our pursuit of technologies and partnerships that support our vision to offer our retailer partners and consumers nationwide a variety of nutrient-dense, differentiated fresh products in a manner that maximizes profitability while minimizing environmental impact,” said Soli Organic’s Chief Science Officier Tessa Pocock about the new partnerships.
Soli Organic has seven growing facilities and supplies to 20,000 retailers across the country. According to the company, it is the only indoor grower that has soil-based, controlled environment growing operations. Most of the big players in this space, like Gotham Greens, Bright Farms, and Bowery Farming, use hydroponic growing methods instead.
If you have ever seen indoor-grown greens or herbs in your grocery store, you may have noticed that most of these products are a bit pricier than the standard options. Soli Organic already offers affordable herbs, but following the new partnerships, hopes to bring even more indoor-grown produce to consumers.