Saskatoon-based Ecobain Gardens improves crops by switching to LED lights

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WATCH ABOVE: An innovative approach to farming is allowing a Saskatoon business to grow fresh herbs year-round. Ryan Kessler reports on Ecobain Gardens and its mission to revolutionize how we think of farming – Mar 6, 2017

A new project is helping Saskatoon-based Ecobain Gardens improve crop yields as well as significantly reduce energy consumption by using LED lights.

Ecobain Gardens grows pesticide-free herbs and microgreens in an indoor facility. The vertical farm operation produces 73,000 pounds of produce annually in less than 1,400 square feet of space.

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After evaluating several lighting suppliers, the company selected Philips GreenPower LED Production Modules to replace its original fluorescent lights.

“The innovative LED products provided by Philips Lighting are helping us build cost effective, smart, productive farms to safely service this massive void we have in our food system,” Brian Bain, Ecobain Gardens co-founder and CEO, said.

“Our passion for growing plants and providing the best possible product, in unique and alternative ways, has helped shape our business and perspective on farming.”

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Phillips Lighting officials said growing cycles are considerably shorter once the more energy efficient system are installed.

Ecobain is now producing basil plants at commercial scale, or over 10,000 a week.

The low-heat output of the LED lights were also recognized for producing more consistent plant growth. While providing increased space efficiency due to the minimal heat radiated by the modules, this enables tighter placement of crop rows and, thus, higher yields.

Paul Boers Ltd., the Philips Horticulture Partner supporting the project, worked with SaskPower which resulted in a rebate of over $70,000 for Ecobain Gardens.

Ecobain officials said they would be $30,000 more in debt if competitors’ lightning was used. In addition, the LED system is cutting the company’s HVAC system costs nearly in half.

Established in 2013, Ecobain Gardens is considered the first and largest commercial vertical farming operation in Canada. The company grows produce for grocery stores such as Federated Co-op, Safeway and Sobeys.

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