Fully automated glasshouse opened by Langmead Group

Langmead Group has opened what it describes as the UK's first fully automated glasshouse herb-growing facility, in West Sussex. This £3m investment will provide UK supermarkets with year-round fresh herbs totalling five-million pots a year.

Glasshouse: facility for automatic herb potting, sowing and growing - image: Langmead Group
Glasshouse: facility for automatic herb potting, sowing and growing - image: Langmead Group

The automatic potting, sowing and growing system, in which growing benches are sown and moved robotically, can run 24 hours a day and requires minimal human input. The 1.2ha site grows potted basil, parsley, mint, thyme and chives for retailers, as well as an organic range for Abel & Cole.

Langmead Group chief executive Ian Summerfield said: "We have embraced the innovation, technology and investment required to create cutting-edge environmental and stock management for our customers."

Incorporating several sustainability features, the glasshouse is heated by a fully sustainable biomass fuel system and takes ultraviolet-filtered water entirely from the site's reservoir. A 550sq m germination room allows optimal growth and crop uniformity. Organic herbs are grown in the same manner as conventional crops, using a peat-free substrate.

Langmead is also trialling herb varieties and seed crops at the site and conducting research with the University of Nottingham on how lighting can be used to optimise growth and prevent disease.

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