Our Production Technology
"Controlled Environment Agriculture" refers to indoor growing, usually in greenhouses or growth chambers, where most or all of the factors influencing plant growth - nutrition, light, temperature, humidity, etc. - can be controlled by the grower to optimize the rate of plant growth and the development of other desirable plant characteristics.
Hydroponics, one technique often used in controlled environment agriculture, involves planting seeds in small, individual inert plugs or cubes and providing the nutrients needed for plant growth directly to the plants by way of enriched nutrient solutions without the use of soil. This allows both precise catering to the plants' nutritional needs and easy respacing of the plants as they mature, enabling the grower to make highly efficient use of available growing space.
Lakeville employs a greenhouse-based form of controlled environment agriculture, utilizing rolling trays and moveable gully arrays of its own design and manufacture, a combination of flood-and-drain and nutrient film hydroponic technology, supplemental high intensity artificial lighting, and multiple adjustments of plant spacing between seeding and harvest. There is no need for pesticides since the air entering the greenhouse is filtered, eliminating virtually all insects, and no need for herbicides since there is no soil in which weeds can germinate. The absence of soil anywhere in the growing system also means that the plants are perfectly clean when harvested, with no grit to be contended with by the end user. A quick rinse and they're ready to use.
Plant production is continuous at the company's Washingtonville facility, with seven crops seeded and seven crops harvested every week of the year. Growth rates are somewhat slower in winter than in summer, but always significantly faster than they would be under even the best field conditions. The combination of year-round production, optimum growing conditions and variable plant spacing allows the production of many times the quantity of marketable fresh produce that could be harvested on an annual basis from a comparable area devoted to field production.