Special Report: RotoGro has sowed a strong partnership with organic producer grower Freshero, as the pair progress plans for a long-term joint venture and state-of-the-art growing facility in Australia.

It’s best known within the cannabis sector, but RotoGro (ASX:RGI) is proving the versatility of applications for its stackable hydroponic rotary garden technology, today announcing an update on its partnership with organic produce grower Freshero.

Test have already shown that RotoGro’s system can produce at least 60 to 85 per cent more cannabis yield in the same amount of space as that of flat deck rolling tables.

But it’s also been running trials since November with Freshero to prove the technology’s prowess in cultivating leafy greens and fruiting produce.

Results from early tests showed crop density, yield and cycle times were “equally surprising” for perishable foods as for cannabis, and now, both companies are progressing with plans for a longer-term joint venture which would include royalty payments for RotoGro and the construction of a pilot facility in New South Wales.

A seed for growth

Freshero has relationships across wholesale, retail and food service across Australasia, Southeast Asia and the Middle East.

It’s also currently in the process of building indoor urban vertical farming facilities near retail distribution centres.

As part of the joint venture, Freshero will incorporate RotoGro’s rotational hydroponic garden systems as well as its crop management fertigation hardware and software into these vertical farming solutions.

It will also commit to an exclusive, long-term agreement for future installation and maintenance and pay a royalty fee based on a share of crop sales revenue per growing facility.

Also in the works is a pilot facility, to be established in New South Wales, with the first machines set to be delivered in Q2 of this year.

While official terms of the agreement are yet to be defined, Freshero CEO Tony Mahoney says the company is very pleased with the results to date.

“The leafy green trials are demonstrating an opportunity to move to commercialisation quite quickly and with the fully automated growing, harvesting and packing system being envisaged, we will be competitive in the market place and possibly unique in being fully automated from seed to market,” he said.

The next round of trials will focus on fruiting crops, which RotoGro says represent a ‘particularly significant’ opportunity, with the trial process being extended to accommodate the additional range of crop varieties.

RotoGro Managing Director Michael Carli says the partnership could also enable the company to carve out a position in the growing urban farming sector.

“The frequent interaction of our respective company’s knowledgeable personnel inspires further innovation. The ability to extend the trials to accommodate additional varieties broadens the size and scope of our proposed facilities and global market penetration.”

Urban farming has gained popularity in recent years, supported by growing populations and urbanisation.

According to Global Market Insights, the vertical farming market was valued at over US$2 billion in 2017 and the industry is expected to grow by a CAGR of more than 25 per cent up to 2024.


This story was developed in collaboration with RotoGro International, a Stockhead advertiser at the time of publishing.
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