The technologies for farming under glass (and growing 3 million pounds of tomatoes)
Thursday, November 12, 2020
For Luke den Haan, CEO of Den Haan Greenhouses and a third-generation farmer, joining the family business was never in doubt — it was just a question of when.
In operation since 1963, Den Haan Greenhouses in 2020 is a high-technology greenhouse business occupying eight acres and producing more than 3 million pounds of tomatoes and a million cucumbers that are sold throughout Atlantic Canada every year.
So how did a third-generation family-owned farm evolve into a high-tech operation? For Den Haan Greenhouses, the secret was perfecting the technology to guarantee the best “growing strategies.”
“Software allows us to monitor and adjust such things as irrigation quantities, schedules and lighting strategies, which ensures the best growing environment and nutrient strategies to grow higher yields and superior grades. Production software allows us to track labour efficiency and crop yields,” explains den Haan.
While climate change and an increasing demand for local, year-round produce is very conducive to greenhouse growing, managing indoor conditions is a never-ending challenge. As den Haan knows all too well, a little problem in a greenhouse can become a big one very quickly if you’re not constantly observing. Staying on top of technology solutions allows den Haan to have complete control and access to an abundance of information, accurately able to predict outcomes, mitigating risk and waste streams.
A recent innovation at the den Haan greenhouses was adding state-of-the-art lighting technology. With the help of Nova Scotia Business Inc.’s Innovation Rebate Program (IRP), the den Haan team installed LED lighting that mimics a summer day — regardless of the conditions outside the greenhouses.
“LED Lighting allows us to produce year-round favourable conditions, which will increase revenue for the company, supply our customers with a steady and consistent supply of produce, and create more full-time employment for our community.”
Not only will the lighting increase den Haan’s yield by 25-30%, it also reduces their carbon footprint. “As a company, den Haan has always had a vision for a sustainable future and respect for the environment. Environmental policies have been ingrained in our operations from the start. We take pride in what we do. Protecting the environment, ensuring food safety and working together towards a common vision is important to us.”
As one of Canada’s top growers, den Haan is proud of the den Haan team who go the extra mile to ensure a high-quality product reaches the kitchens of Atlantic Canadians. From harvest, to packing and grading, to packaging, it’s a business he loves located in a province he loves; one that just happens to be a leader in agri-food innovations.
“We’ll be looking to expand once again. Perhaps we will add peppers to our lineup but definitely more tomatoes and cucumbers. Supply and demand are crucial, and technology is playing a huge role in helping us keep up our supply as the demand increases.”
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