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[l] at 6/29/22 7:08am
Creating the optimal grow environment and identifying the ideal combination of lighting, heating, cooling and humidity takes an expertise in critical environments as well as agricultural know-how. Join us for an insightful session with energy suppliers and growers as they share how to maximize your energy use and minimize your expenses. Join our panel of industry experts, including: MODERATOR: Daphne Preuss, CEO, CarbonBook PANELISTS: James Eaves, Indoor Agriculture Director, VoltServer Paal Elfstrum, CEO, Wheatfield Gardens, LLC Luis Ampudia, Senior Sales Manager, INNIO Jenbacher North America LLC LEARN MORE & REGISTER EARLY BIRD REGISTRATION NOW OPEN FOR INDOOR AG-CON LAS VEGASFEBRUARY 27-28, 2023

[Category: Events, Industry News]

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[l] at 6/27/22 7:02am
29 June @ Omnia Dialogue Centre, Wageningen, The Netherlands Wageningen University & Research (WUR): After working for eight months to reshape urban food production in a low-income, food oppressed community in Washington DC, ten international teams of students will compete in the finals of the Urban Greenhouse Challenge #3 on the 29 June 2022.  During the Grand Finals, the students will present their concepts and be judged by an international jury including Nona Yehia (Vertical Harvest, USA), Patricia Paiva (ISHS, Brazil) and Meiny Prins (Priva, The Netherlands). The three winning teams will receive their money prizes of € 10.000, € 3.000, and € 1.500, respectively.   The programme includes a Designers’ Market where teams will present their concepts, and an Award Ceremony with presentations from Dhanush Dinesh (Clim-EAT), Sabine OHara (University of the District of Columbia) and Gert Spaargaren (Wageningen University & Research). Throughout the event, our media partners, Renee Snijders and Ed Smit from Eat This, will be broadcasting a radio show live on paprikatastyradio.  With this event, the Urban Greenhouse Challenge series by WUR will come to an end, as this will be the very last edition. The Social Impact Edition was achieved in partnership with the University of the District of Columbia in Washington DC and counted with the participation of 260 students from 70 universities in 20 countries around the world. Among the ten finalists are teams from the USA, Peru, China, Colombia and the Netherlands.  What is the ‘Urban Greenhouse Challenge #3 Social Impact Edition’? The ‘Urban Greenhouse Challenge’ is an international student competition that, every two years, aims to catalyse innovation in the realm of urban farming. The third (and last) edition of the Challenge focuses on creating an urban farm concept that ensures year-round sustainable and affordable food production, but also generates income for the local residents of Ward 7, a low-income neighbourhood in Washington DC, USA. Find out more in https://urbangreenhousechallenge.nl/ About WUR Student Challenges: Wageningen University & Research organises Challenges for students worldwide and supports WUR teams that participate in student competitions via WUR Student Challenges. These challenges pose a unique and enriching opportunity for students to work on real-life problems and make a difference. Visit the WUR Student Challenges website to find out which opportunities are there for students or sponsoring enterprises. More information:  https://urbangreenhousechallenge.nl/events/view Frank Boers (053266299) Marta Eggers (0644447611)

[Category: Education, Industry News, Greenhouse, Wageningen University]

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[l] at 6/21/22 12:54pm
We are delighted to announce that we will hold a new online training course on plant factories with artificial lighting (PFALs) in English for July-August 2022. The coming course will comprise introductory classes and specialized content. Introductory classes will offer elementary theory and practice of PFALs, basic knowledge of cultivation and operational management, and keys to business success. Specialized content will cover practical methods, novel applications, a 60 mins virtual tour to commercial large-scale PFAL, and so on. Participants will acquire specific and practical know-how as well as be guided through theories and academic knowledge. There will be a live online question-and-answer session during the course. A special app used for the course will allow participants to interact with each other. The alumni of the JPFA’s training courses in English in 2018-2022 are welcome to join the coming course. For more details, please click here. ■Duration: July 15 – August 3, 2022 ■Registration  First-time attendees: Click here.  The alumni of the 2018-2022 training courses: Visit the URL in the email sent to all the alumni. *If you cannot access the registration website provided by SelectType, email us at training@npoplantfactory.org. ■Information PDF: Information on JPFA 2022 Online Training Course on PFALs If you have any questions, feel free to contact us.We are looking forward to having you online!■■■Contact Info■■■Hori Koji/Hiramatsu NozomiInternational Relations and ConsultingJapan Plant Factory Association (JPFA)Email: training@npoplantfactory.org

[Category: Education, Events, Industry News, Greenhouse, Indoor Ag Technology, Japan Plant Factory Association, Vertical Farming]

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[l] at 6/21/22 8:36am
The University of Arizona Controlled Environment Agriculture Center is pleased to invite you to attend the 2022 International Meeting of the NCERA-101 Committee on Controlled Environment Technology & Use. The conference is being held at the Marriott University Park Hotel located on The University of Arizona main campus, Tucson, Arizona. Tucson is home to The University of Arizona and is a UNESCO City of Gastronomy, making it the first city in the United States of America to be honored with this designation.  Conference Registration  Click HERE to register for the event. If you are coming with a spouse/partner (non-delegate) you may choose to include them in our Gala Dinner & Technical Tour day activities. Simply purchase Guest Gala Dinner and Technical Tour tickets for them to join these activities. Conference registration is separate from the hotel booking. Registration ends by 5 PM (MT) on August 22nd, 2022.  Accommodations  Meeting attendees are welcome to stay at Marriott University Park Hotel. If you choose to do so, please book your room by August 22nd, 2022 to take advantage of a discounted conference rate of $139 per night. The rooms are available on a first-come first-served basis, so we encourage attendees to make their reservations as soon as possible. Register for hotel rooms HERE  Please see the full meeting program HERE 

[Category: Education, Events, Industry News, Conference, Greenhouse, Greenhouse Technology, LED Grow Lights, Technology, Vertical Farming]

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[l] at 6/20/22 8:23am
Some people suggest saffron is a spice made of red gold. We ask three important questions: what makes it so special, why is it so expensive and should we try to adapt it for growing in CEA?  Zafferano Siciliano Crocus produces large saffron stigmas. Saffron (Crocus sativus L., a member of the Iridaceae family) is prized for its unique yellow color in culinary dishes and loved by chefs for its flavor in many of our foods. The high cost comes from the fact that it needs to be grown in a particular climate and the long red stigma must be laboriously collected by hand.  In the US, saffron is traded for up to $10,000 per kilo but this is highly dependent on the final graded product (graded 1- 4, 4 is the best quality and has a high safranal content with the red stigma separated from the yellow anther). The problem is, it takes around 150,000 flowers to produce 1kg of dried saffron. So we want to know, is it really worth it for CEA farmers? Lets take a closer look at saffron’s history and the pros and cons of growing the most expensive spice in the world. A long illustrious history of production  Ancient artworks revealed saffron was domesticated around 300 to 1600 BC and was thought to have been originally harvested as a mutant of Crocus cartrightianus which was abundant around the time in the Mediterranean. The origins of saffron agronomy date back to Iran and today the country is responsible for producing over 90% of the world’s saffron where it has both historical and ceremonial importance in Persian culture. Other areas of production stretch across the Mediterranean where conditions are perfect for growing most notably North Africa, Morocco, Spain, Greece, Italy and India. The Spanish love the color in traditional paella whereas the Italians use it for signature risotto dishes like Risotto alla Milanese.  How does it grow naturally? Visible two to three flowers per saffron corm Saffron is adapted to arid regions and has an annual life cycle, but it is generally cultivated as a perennial crop by controlling corm bulb growth for the following year. It is a sterile triploid geophyte and is relatively slow to replicate through daughter corms each year. In the field, corms that die back after flowering and unusually have no cold requirement to break their dormancy. They can be lifted from the field during this time and stored in a dry shed before planting out again in spring, although they are hardy and can withstand low soil temperatures.  Saffron has immense health benefits  Saffron is abundant in phytochemicals, particularly picrocrocin which breaks down during the drying process to form safranal, which gives it the distinctive earthy taste. Another carotenoid pigment crocin, produces the golden yellow color when mixed with rice. Saffron also contains non-volatile antioxidants including lycopene and zeaxanthin which we identify with a Mediterranean diet, that are great for a long healthy life. Crocus sativus L. has a wide array of medicinal and nutritional uses. Traditionally it goes way back as a drug alternative for many conditions such as heart disease, obesity, Alzheimers and diabetes. Several studies confirm the medicinal effects of the plant. Antioxidant effects demonstrate free radical scavenger activity that modulate inflammatory mediators, humoral immunity and cell-mediated immunity responses. There are several clinical studies of these effects in its derivatives, safranal, crocin and crocetin. Researchers in Iran recently identified saffron as an effective treatment for mild postnatal depression. Saffron has since been shown to have mood altering effects thought to be the result of balancing neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain. In placebo comparison trials saffron had significant effects on levels of depression and displayed similar antidepressant efficacy to pharmaceuticals.  A double blind study of more than 80 people found the effects of the spice effective in treating depression in adolescents, without any side effects or fear of withdrawal symptoms when stopping the saffron. Saffron extract (affron®) was given for 8 weeks and it was found to improve anxiety and depressive symptoms in youths with mild and moderate symptoms. Adults reported more mixed results so more studies are needed to be conclusive in the understanding and role of saffron in the treatment of depression. Why do we need high value crops like saffron in CEA? Growing saffron in a controlled environment can have many advantages; it’s cleaner, free from pests and disease, nutrients are delivered directly to the root mass, aeration with dissolved oxygen increases biomass, temperature can be maintained without fluctuations and light intensity can be well managed. Saffron needs high intensity light and this can be delivered by high efficiency LEDs without fluctuation, eliminating weather dependent uncertainty in the field.  Despite the relative ease and low maintenance of growing in a controlled environment, it is the high flower numbers required to produce the end product and subsequent labor intensive ‘picking’ time that are the limiting factor. While in the field it is possible to grow three or more flowers per bulb per season (due to the daughter corms still being attached) the spacing requirements are more difficult to estimate in CEA until trials show optimized growth in a square meter space as smaller daughter corms will produce smaller stigma. We have no knowledge of large scale CEA production data and comparison to field harvests but scaling up in CEA may be more prohibitive due to labor costs. Perhaps automating this process in the future with robotic tweezers or re-engineering tissue culture pickers to use image analysis software with an ability to pick out the red stigma and separate from the anther would be useful, but we are some way off that at present. Saffron has a high Market Value  Regardless of the issues, saffron continues to be of interest to CEA growers due to its high value and growing global demand as a medicinal plant and diverse applications in the food industry as well as for cosmetics and dyes. The global saffron market size is expected to reach USD 721.5 million by 2028, according to a new report by Grand View Research, expanding at a CAGR of 8.5% over the forecast period. Buyer beware! If you buy saffron and it seems cheap it’s more than likely to be fake! Fake saffron is rife within this market and includes corn silk threads, safflower (an unrelated thistle), coconut filaments or even dyed horse hair, or shredded paper.  Safflower (in tissue culture above) Carthamus tinctorius, is the most likely culprit. It is a highly branched, herbaceous, thistle-like annual plant in the sunflower family Asteraceae and is often substituted for saffron. Each flower head contains 20–180 individual florets that can be confused with saffron to the untrained eye but the color gives it away as they are less intense than saffron stigma.  Dyes used to color fake saffron will dissipate quickly and this can be tested easily in water. Despite this, safflower has some excellent qualities as an oil in its own right and is commercially traded in the EU.  Growing conditions  Temperature, light intensity/spectrum and humidity are particularly important in saffron cultivation. According to researchers in Vermont there are five main phases to the lifecycle of saffron production, sprouting, flowering, vegetative phase, production of replacement corms, and the dormant phase. Leaf area index, crop growth rate, relative growth rate, net assimilation rate, and leaf area ratio are all important. Photo credit: Association of Vertical Farming A few entrepreneurs are paving the way by growing saffron in CEA. Dr Ardalan Ghilavizadeh pictured above is an expert hydroponics saffron grower from Iran and currently working in Berlin. Saffron is a short-day plant so requires a period of around 12 hours in the dark and 10-12 hours per day lights on (16-18hrs during flowering). According to Urbanleaf, saffron can be grown indoors and they suggest it will require a DLI of 15+ mols/m²/d to flower. They go on to propose that 24W light bulbs can be placed around 6 inches away from the top of the plants to deliver a PPFD of 500 μmol/m²/s. Ideal temperatures for saffron flowering are around 70°F but anything between 50 and 100°F grows well. We have some preliminary trials with saffron but experimenting with light spectrum may achieve the best results to promote flowering and maintain a stable temperature during flowering. Growing in hydroponics follows similar conditions to other flowering plants and saffron displays a wide pH range of 5.5 7 but it’s best stay around 6 for maximum nutrient uptake at EC 1.4.  As with any production, IPM is important since saffron is prone to many diseases. Pathogens include fungal corm rot, nematodes, bacteria, and viruses. Diseases mostly appear as a consequence of physical damage or attacks by insects particularly mites and aphids. Propagation of Saffron Corms  Saffron male seed is sterile so it is propagated vegetatively using corms. Flower yield is highly dependent on corm size and density but lack of availability and diversity of plant material presents a major constraint for large scale CEA saffron production. A large corm above 8 grams produces three to four small daughter corms, which take 2 to 3 seasons (in the field a season is one calendar year but in CEA there is potential for four harvests annually) to achieve the size and weight for flowering.  Forcing the bulbs through regular dormancy periods via CEA may help to promote cormogenesis. Crocus sativus corms like rock wool for support to protect them against getting too wet. The method of hydroponics i.e. NFT or aeroponics must not allow the bulb to get too wet so it should sit proud of the rock wool substrate. They will root very quickly, around a week in our experience with aeroponic growing.  Saffron Micropropagation  Saffron is relatively slow to propagate and only produces a few vegetative corms on the main plant annually in late summer after flowering has finished and the leaves die back. Breeding programs are needed to increase diversity of the corms and micropropagation may provide a solution to access of clean stock material. Saffron research is limited with only a handful of teams working on genetics in India, Iran and Europe. This crop needs preservation of genetic biodiversity to protect its quality and sustainability for future agricultural production.  Genetic diversity in corm supply is an issue so indirect organogenesis may provide new routes to improve cultivation of saffron. Tissue culture micropropagation, somatic embryogenesis, organogenesis, gene editing and in vitro cormogenesis can all help regenerate pathogen free reproduction of this plant. We are working to perfect this process.  Crocus Sativa L. in tissue culture  Processing  Harvest first thing in the morning according to Dr Sally Francis, a field grower from Norfolk in the UK. The stigmas must be dried soon after harvest as they can become moldy. Besides the important role that dehydration plays in the preservation of saffron, it is also a necessary process to generate organoleptic properties in fresh stigmas. Dehydration treatment brings about physical and chemical changes necessary to achieve the desired quality of saffron. But be careful drying as over 150F can cause degradation of the phytonutrients. Economics of growing Saffron in CEA is it worth it financially? The high retail value of saffron is maintained on world markets predominantly because of labor intensive harvesting methods but if this was not an issue could growing saffron in a CEA farm give a good profitable return? The circle of saffron: daughters accumulate after the mother’s die back during dormancy, sometimes there is a large variation in size depending on fertigation. We can achieve this easily in hydroponics applying fertilizer at the correct intervals to increase corm density. Let’s examine a theoretical scenario growing saffron in CEA reaching the highest market value of $10,000/Kg and play a game of dpi or in this case cpi, corms per inch. On a 1 meter square shelf with a light intensity PPFD of 500 μmols/m2/s we can potentially grow 150 saffron bulbs (and assuming they each produce one dominant flower) with a spacing at least an inch apart to allow for flower development. Assuming they are forced to produce flowers 4 times per year, this rate could produce 600 flowers in a 1m2 area annually. If 150 flowers produce 1g dry weight, a yield of 4g of dry weight saffron is possible from 150 corms per square meter annually (four harvests). Assuming a 10 layer shelf with lights spaced 20” apart, there is potential to scale up to 40g in a vertical space and 10 bays could reach 0.4kg (in reality it should be higher depending on how many flowers the corm produces). Depending on the grade this could net a return of $4,000. Not a bad return if you exclude capital startup costs. However high energy consumption and revenue costs may substantially reduce profits per meter square. Calculations are difficult as it will depend on an hourly rate for a picker and the uncertainty of rising energy costs could also hamper the return on running such a facility.  Issues that affect future stability of growing saffron  The adverse effects of global warming and climate change on saffron flower induction could alter the way saffron is grown. As the global north becomes warmer and extreme weather events become more frequent we will begin to find these crops in more protected geo locations. Wars and poverty also play a role in agriculture and instability in the region could lead to reduced world availability.  Niche high value product for the food service market is that why we should grow it?  Photo Credit: We love a top dad who can cook, many thanks to our friend, Brandon Green, @ito.creations from Charlotte, NC, for providing this image of vegetable tempura sushi with saffron sushi rice.   While saffron may not be an obvious choice for most larger commercial CEA growers, it should not be discounted as a high value crop for the service industry, fitting with more niche restaurant based container farms. Saffron is fairly low maintenance until harvest and some are even automating growing, which will reduce labor costs as the stigma can be picked by the restaurants when required without post processing and delivered straight to the chefs palette. The advantage is it can be grown anywhere, close to restaurants, in cities and of course we are biased but it may also go well with sushi and a side of real wasabi.   Janet Colston PhD is pharmacologist with an interest in growing ‘functional’ foods that have additional phytonutrients and display medicinal qualities that are beneficial to human health. She grows these using a range of techniques including plant tissue micropropagation and controlled environmental agriculture to ensure the highest quality control. Unless otherwise stated all images are courtesy of The Functional Plant Company and property of Urban Ag News.

[Category: Functional Food]

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[l] at 6/16/22 4:17pm
Sakata Seed America has officially announced two new business establishments in California’s major agricultural centers: Salinas Valley and Woodland, California.  Since 1988, Sakata Seed America has operated its North American headquarters in Morgan Hill, California. The company recently initiated plans to relocate its headquarters, including all operations and personnel functions, to its 219-acre site in Woodland, California by late 2024. The planned relocation to the Woodland Innovation Center (WIC) will follow the second phase of an infrastructure expansion project that began in 2016. WIC celebrated its official opening in 2018, when phase one of the building project was completed, which boasted 16-acres of operational facilities, including greenhouses, a LEED-certified office, headhouse, washery, a 25,000 square-foot warehouse, featuring the latest technology in seed processing equipment, and farm shop. In addition, there is ample farmland to host Sakata’s annual California Field Days event and serve as a permanent trialing location for the company’s expanding breeding programs and research & development department.  “The expansion of our Woodland Innovation Center is an exciting and necessary step for the future of Sakata. As we broaden our leadership position in a range of warm crops, it’s imperative that we support our growing business and deepen our roots in one of the world’s most dynamic growing regions: the ‘Silicon Valley of seed.’ Our headquarters relocation to Woodland reflects our commitment to California’s vital agriculture and seed sectors, and the investment enables us to consolidate R&D and multiple other functions on a single, state of the art campus,” states Dave Armstrong, President & CEO of Sakata Seed America. In May of this year, Sakata also opened a new facility in Marina, California, near Salinas. The Sakata Marina Distribution Center is a 20,000 square-foot, temperature-controlled warehouse and office building. The Marina Distribution Center is now home to the company’s lettuce seed program and in future will store and deliver multiple species, including Sakata’s robust brassica program, for the Coastal California region in 2024.   “We aim to supply high quality seed and market leading genetics to the Salinas Valley, a community in which we’ve grown and operated since 1985.  Marina is centrally located in the area and provides us with all means necessary to support our innovative breeding programs, as well as our growth in the Salinas Valley and neighboring growing regions,” notes John Nelson, Executive Vice President. Sakata Seed America has long been known for its outstanding brand presence and market share in broccoli and has also made significant investments in recent years in infrastructure and personnel to expand its market share in multiple other crops.  The Company’s efforts are focused on integrating a network of research stations throughout North America, including its recently opened Culiacán Innovation Center in Mexico, to foster collaboration for Sakata’s global breeding team on tomato, pepper, watermelon and melon, among others.  To learn more about Sakata genetics, company history, personnel, and career opportunities, please visit SakataVegetables.com.  About Sakata Seed America: Headquartered in Morgan Hill, CA, Sakata Seed America is a major research, seed production and marketing-distribution subsidiary of Sakata Seed Corporation, established in 1913 in Yokohama, Japan.   Sakata Seed America serves as the headquarters for the North American operations. Sakata’s objective is to quickly and efficiently meet industry expectations for quality seed, innovative genetics and excellent greenhouse and field performance.

[Category: Business, Industry News, Greenhouse, Plants]

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[l] at 6/14/22 7:42am
University of Florida Greenhouse Training Online courses  Nutrient Management Level 1 Starts July 11! Train your staff to make better decisions about fertilizer and plant nutrient management. Nutrient Management Level 1 is the second course of the award-winning Greenhouse Online Training program offered by the University of Florida IFAS Extension. This course is intermediate level and designed for people with some experience or entry university level, who are in production, technical, or sales role for greenhouse and nursery crops. Topics covered include common nutrient problems, essential nutrients, fertilizer types, growing media, and testing (soil, nutrient solution and tissue). The course is offered in English and Spanish. Rated 4.4 out of 5 by grower participants. The course runs from July 11 to August 5, 2022. The cost is $249 per participant, with a 20% discount if you register 5 or more. All course material is completely online and available at any time of the day, and includes pre-recorded videos, an interactive discussion board with PhD professors, and quizzes. Two new modules are activated each week during the course, for a total of 8 learning modules. Instruction is at your own pace and time within the 4 weeks of the course, with a typical time commitment of about 6 hours per week. Click here to register (http://hort.ifas.ufl.edu/training/). Nutrient Management 1 is the first of the courses of the new Plant Health Professional certification program which we are launching later in 2022. This program is supported by University of Florida UF IFAS Extension (UF Greenhouse Training Online) and the Michigan State University Floriculture Program Extension (MSU Online College of Knowledge) for greenhouse clientele successfully completing several existing courses from the two programs. For more information, go to http://hort.ifas.ufl.edu/training/, or contact Greenhouse Training, Environmental Horticulture, University of Florida, USA, Email: greenhousetraining@ifas.ufl.edu.

[Category: Education, Industry News, Florida, Greenhouse, Nutrition]

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[l] at 6/13/22 7:32am
Wageningen University & Research  9 June 2022 sees the arrival of the fourth episode of the ‘Urban Greenhouse Talks’ on Podbean channel. This five-episode podcast series explores the world of urban farming through the lenses of the Urban Greenhouse Challenge#3, an international student competition organised by Wageningen University & Research. Eight months after 30 international student teams signed up to design a new urban farm for the local community of Ward 7, Washington DC, we now get ready to announce the ten finalists of the Urban Greenhouse Challenge#3. Did the teams manage to consider the social impact of their designs, and is the local community responsive to their efforts?  In this podcast, we discover what the community really needs and how the student submissions have lived up to that challenge. Neighbourhood Commissioner Antawan Holmes, President of Deanwood Citizens Association Jimell Sanders together with two representatives of the University of the District of Columbia, prof Kathy Dixon and Eric Harris, paint a picture of Ward 7 and the ‘food apartheid’ situation. Together, they emphasise the need for inclusive design, and the transfer of knowledge between academia, private sector, and the local communities. Hosts Renee Snijders and Ed Smit from Eat This end this episode with a shimmer of hope towards finding what it takes to make the urban greenhouse dreams come true for Ward 7 residents. Tune in to hear how a food oppressed community receives ambitious student projects to revolutionise urban food production! Link to listen/ download the episode What is the ‘Urban Greenhouse Challenge #3’? The ‘Urban Greenhouse Challenge’ is an international student competition that aims to catalyse innovation in the realm of urban farming. The third edition of the Challenge focuses on creating an urban farm concept that ensures year-round sustainable and affordable food production, but also generates incomes for the local residents of Ward 7, a neighbourhood in Washington DC, USA. Find out more: https://urbangreenhousechallenge.nl/ About WUR Student Challenges: Wageningen University & Research organises Challenges for students worldwide and supports WUR teams that participate in student competitions via WUR Student Challenges. These challenges pose a unique and enriching opportunity for students to work on real-life problems and make a difference. Visit the WUR Student Challenges website to find out which opportunities are there for students or sponsoring enterprises.

[Category: Education, Industry News, Greenhouse, Greenhouse Technology, Wageningen University]

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[l] at 6/7/22 7:18am
Funding is First Part of $75 Million Investment to Support a Fairer Food System and Expand Access to Nutritious Food  WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announces significant investments to support urban agriculture, including $43.1 million for grants and cooperative agreements as well as six new urban county committees to help deliver key USDA programs to urban producers. These actions support USDA’s efforts to strengthen the food supply chain and transform the food system to be fairer, more competitive, and more resilient.  Specifically, USDA is investing $10.2 million in new cooperative agreements to expand compost and food waste reduction efforts and $14.2 million in new grants to support the development of urban agriculture and innovative production projects. Additionally, $18.7 million will fund 75 worthy grant proposals from the 2021 application cycle, which was oversubscribed.  Composting and Food Waste Reduction Cooperative Agreements  This is the third year of USDA’s Composting and Food Waste Reduction (CFWR) cooperative agreements, and so far, USDA has invested $3 million in community composting in urban areas across the country. The $10.2 million to be awarded in 2022 will fund pilot projects that develop and implement strategies for municipal compost plans and food waste reduction plans.  Local governments may submit projects that do one or more of the following:  ·       generate compost;  ·       provide access to compost to farmers;  ·       reduce fertilizer use;  ·       improve soil quality;  ·       encourage waste management and permaculture business development;  ·       increase rainwater absorption; reduce municipal food waste; and/or  ·       divert food waste from landfills.  Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production (OUAIP) Grants  This is also the third year of OUAIP grants, which have already provided more than $7.5 million focused on food access, education, business and start-up costs for new farmers, and development of policies related to zoning and other needs. The $14.2 million to be awarded in 2022 will support the development of urban agriculture and innovative production projects through:  ·       Planning Projects that initiate or expand efforts of urban and suburban farmers, gardeners, citizens, government officials, schools and other stakeholders to target areas of food access, education, business and start-up costs for new farmers, urban forestry, and policies related to zoning and other needs of urban production.  ·       Implementation Projects that accelerate urban, indoor and other agricultural practices that serve multiple farmers and improve local food access. They may support infrastructure needs, emerging technologies, education and urban farming policy implementation.  For more information, see the full press release here.

[Category: Uncategorized]

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[l] at 6/1/22 8:31am
Publication date: Fri 27 May 2022© HortiDaily.com Shared with permission. Who will carry the increasing costs? That is what everyone in the Dutch greenhouse vegetable market wants to know. At the start of this new season, no one really had an answer, although, for now, growers seem to be saddled with it. What is clear is that this situation will not last very long. Will the sector take a united stand? Who knows. According to many growers, suppliers and traders, Dutch horticulture is currently in one of the greatest crisis the horticultural sector has ever known. Energy prices are skyrocketing and so is the inflation, theres a lack of labor available, raw materials are becoming more expensive, theres uncertainty among transport and trade routes and the geopolitical situation is unstable. While fresh produce prices in supermarket are at an all-time high, growers receive about 20 per cent of that amount. Growers have to do everything they can to keep their costs under control Concerned sectorSo whats happening in the market? Cucumbers kicked off the Dutch greenhouse vegetable season in late January. Other products like aubergine, courgette, bell peppers, and tomatoes followed. Those who dont know better would say nothing is amiss in this sector. However, behind the messages of crisp, healthy produce lurks a deeply concerned sector. This year, more than ever. The distress call that four out of ten Dutch growers are in dire financial straits was finally heard in late March. Belgian growers are in the same boat, as are those in many other countries. The sector has been in trouble since the autumn. The first growers ran into problems as soon as energy prices started to rise. They stopped crops early, and greenhouses remained empty (for longer). Some gave up altogether or sold their greenhouses to (ornamental plant) colleagues. This winter, only about half the usual tomato volumes were grown under lights. If not due to empty greenhouses, then because of more economical lighting and heating. Cucumber production, now increasingly a year-round crop, also declined significantly. Too priceyIn mid-April, these repercussions are still evident in the market. Many growers are still struggling to farm differently out of necessity. That is decreasing production. Because that which you do not put in, you do not get out. The new greenhouse vegetable season began more slowly, with higher prices. In early April, tomatoes were being sold at never-before-seen kg prices. Prices are far above the averages of recent years, though costs, too, are much higher. In March, Dutch tomatoes sold for twice as much as a year earlier. That just goes to show how unusual the current market situation is. Growers who have produce early in the season can usually count on nice prices while there is still a limited supply. Greenhouse-grown produce is in demand at this time. That also applies to export countries, where little or no own product is available early in the season. While, with much care and skill, heated, lit greenhouse cultivation is already possible. This year, these growers were forced to enter the market later and missed out on that advantage. The same goes for traders. For them, the lower volumes at the start of the season have complicated exporting. Day-traders are particularly hard-hit, as told at the recently held international horticultural trade show, Fruit Logistica. Less product means less to send overseas. This is even before considering transport costs, which have also risen sharply, that still need to be added. In the weeks leading up to Easter, cucumber, aubergine, vine tomato, and other prices rose sharply. That, while the prices, especially for vine tomatoes, were already high. That did not sit well with day traders. High prices are good, but, according to the market, the levels at which tomatoes were traded before Easter made day trading challenging. Traders would like prices to drop slightly. TOVs at around €2.50 are too expensive to do any good. Cucumber and aubergine prices of more than €1 in the week before Easter are also highly unusual. The big question in the market is what will happen after Easter. At the time of writing, it is thought that produce will probably flood the market; due to farmers postponing cultivation and adjusted cultivation schedules. Then, the law of supply and demand will prevail, cost crisis or not. The fear is that prices could collapse, while it is precisely now that good prices are so welcome to cover some of the tremendously increased costs. At what price are you supplying?These costs are still a topic of discussion, even now that parties have concluded this seasons sales contracts. If not for this season, then for winter. On the buyers side of the chain, growers and growers associations want to know: at what price are you supplying? On the growers and producer organizations side, it is: are you fixing costs for an entire season? Or are you including flexibility, so prices will reflect costs possibly rising further during the season (or fall, although that seems unlikely)? In the latter case, major supermarket chains are specifically being considered. Can, and will, these major greenhouse vegetable buyers pay more for good, sustainable Dutch or Belgian greenhouse products? That is what growers understand. More and more people also seem to be aware that price hikes are unavoidable. But that does not alter the fact that every cent is considered when raising prices. Recently, in a Dutch television program, a supermarket manager mentioned that they would prefer to raise prices by €0.10, not €0.15, to cover costs. Growers and producer organizations, meanwhile, are pointing out that supermarkets are not taking a stand. Gas pricesThose same growers associations currently determine their own and their growers situation. They are doing calculations per product. For every tomato variety, they are seeing what different gas prices will yield per product; for some growers with fixed gas contracts, that entails a gas price of about €0.80. The increased gas prices are not (yet) affecting them. But some growers do not have favorable gas options or have abandoned their contracts. Others have to heat their greenhouses at daily gas prices or only have boilers, not cogeneration systems. These growers face very different energy costs. In the run-up to Easter, the gas price hovered at roughly €1/megawatt hour. In the current market, no calculations can justify a long-term crop at these gas prices, especially not for lit winter crops. Decisions will have to be made about this in the coming months. Certainty about costsIt is primarily the uncertainty about gas prices that are calling into question how profitable greenhouse farming is in Northwest Europe. In 2021, energy costs made up more than 25% of all costs incurred by Dutch greenhouse growers. It has been impossible to gauge the highly volatile gas prices in recent months, even before the war in Ukraine began. Then you have to ask: will fixing gas prices solve the problem? In France, the idea of fixing the gas price at €0.70 has been mentioned. That would give growers a known cost to reckon upon. The European Commission has stepped in. Because of the unprecedented situation, it has provided member states with far more access to state support. That gives countries the chance to compensate, say, gas-intensive sectors like greenhouse horticulture. Whether individual member states will do so and to what extent remains to be seen. The Dutch governments measures are expected later this month. The Netherlands is not known for quickly choosing state support, so expectations are tempered even before the steps occur. Intervening in the energy market by fixing the gas price is not immediately expected. Whether fixing prices provides a solution to the bigger picture is also debated. Higher costs will likely have to be considered in the future. And, in time, the costs involved in growing crops gas-free; something that is already being looked into. The sector is also working hard on becoming more sustainable, as is continually emphasized, and it is already taking the necessary steps. Dutch growers, for instance, are sticking their necks out regarding geothermal energy and are managing their own systems. The New Style of Growing, a cultivation method that focuses on high production with lower energy consumption, has become established over the past decade. However, increasing sustainability is not free. It demands investment and other costs. In the short term, it is important that growers can keep growing fruit, vegetables, flowers, and plants profitably for general consumption. So, no ornamental plant cultivation for a while as the Dutch government suggested was met with disapproval and outrage. Government bridging loans can help growers survive these difficult times. However, growers, sometimes generations of them, do not want to be staring at an empty greenhouse. Or run a cogeneration plant to generate electricity to feed back into the grid. This is a nice source of income for some growers now that gas prices have also pushed up electricity prices. But, just like their fellow growers who do not have this advantage, they would rather be cultivating vegetables, fruits, flowers, or plants. Passing costs onTo keep doing that, growers must be able to (partially) pass on the increased costs of not only gas. That is what everyone in the chain is talking about and has been for months. It is challenging because, despite all the consolidation, the chain remains very fragmented. This does not help achieve better prices for greenhouse products and makes presenting a united front difficult. It is not for nothing that producer organizations are strengthening themselves by merging and/or increasing their acreage by binding new growers. The idea is that if you are sizable, you are stronger. Yet, everyone also seems to realize that, in the end, consumers cannot bear the brunt of the sky-high costs, which climbed rapidly and highly explosively. This crisis affects everyone. People are turning the heating down in their homes, and more and more families are forced to tighten their belts. So, charging €2 for a cucumber to cover costs would be too much. Nor would it benefit the Dutch market position with international competitors, where cultivation is less gas-intensive, labor costs are lower, and tomato and pepper quality is better. The Netherlands could price itself out of the market, and (cheaper) imports could replace local products. That already happened in the winter. Since the Dutch greenhouse production was so much lower than usual, it could not be helped. Dutch farmers could grow crops further south, which would please supermarkets that prefer receiving products from a single supplier year-round. Even if cucumber prices did not reach €2, everyone in the chain will probably still have to pay for the current crisis in one way or another. If not by cucumbers or tomatoes becoming (much) pricier, then via increased taxes to fund the additional government support. Compensation was eagerly sought, even during the pandemic. Since inflation is rising, it seems inevitable that everything will become more expensive. How much more expensive is the question. The sector urgently needs clarity and perspective, sorely missing in the current uncertain market climate, preferably before the winter season. Growers and traders will focus on this in the coming period, just as they will on bringing this unusual, post-COVID-19 greenhouse vegetable season to a successful conclusion.

[Category: Industry News, Business, Greenhouse, Hydroponics, Technology]

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[l] at 5/31/22 12:26pm
How do we tackle key challenges within urban agriculture and vertical farming? From transformative solutions ranging from remote sensing technology to plant physiology and captured carbon, a selection of featured innovators will showcase their breakthrough technologies at this year’s Indoor AgTech Innovation Summit in New York on June 23-24. Known globally for its focus on technology innovation and acceleration in CEA, urban agriculture and vertical farming, the Indoor AgTech program aims to raise the profile of early-stage companies and advance opportunities for partnerships as they connect with potential investors and partners. Technology Showcase Session: The industry’s most exciting entrepreneurs will each pitch their innovative solutions on stage, followed by an exploratory Q&A from Catalyst Investors and Cofra Holding. Clean Crop Technologies (USA) is on a mission to deploy sustainable technology solutions to help feed the world without burning it down. Its proprietary technology uses electricity to sustainably reduce food waste, improve food safety, and boost crop yields without residues or harming product quality across a wide range of food categories. Gardin (UK) is developing optical remote sensing technology and analytics to measure plant physiology so food producers can grow higher quality produce at lower costs and reduced waste. Its tools and technologies will empower food producers to grow superior yields with the highest nutritional density, optimally, sustainably, and affordably. Nangatech (Poland) is creating and implementing innovative solutions for a food system that is based on nanobubble technology. Its mission is to deliver solutions that unfold a true plants’ potential, improves and fastens crop yields, strengthens a plants resilience and reduces the amount of fertilizers. Its technology increases operational efficiency of farming, while caring for nature. Polybee (Singapore) is increasing the profitability of fresh produce by automating pollination and yield forecasting using nano-drones and AI. The company aims to build a closed-loop feedback control system for CEA cultivation wherein input setpoints for climate and nutrients are autonomously adjusted to changing conditions. Innovation Spotlight: Discover how a new variety of indoor grown crops including wasabi, hops and spirulina are optimizing the CEA industry. Ekonoke (Spain) brings reliability of supply for beer makers, producing local, vertically-grown hops with a reduced water footprint x20, eliminating food miles and using no pesticides. “You can count on Ekonoke to save your beer! We researched the top 10 crops with significant climate change risk and hops topped the list,” highlights Ines Sagrario, CEO & Co-Founder. Nordic Wasabi (Iceland) is the first product from Jurt Hydroponics, a start-up producing quality hard to grow plants using advanced technologies and sustainable resources. Its growing process is powered by renewable energy and nurtured with pure Icelandic water. “This wasabi has been praised by renowned chefs across the globe and featured on the menus of some of the world’s best restaurants,” reveals Co-Founder Ragnar Tomasson. We Are The New Farmers (USA) is a mission-driven urban farming company using captured carbon to create sustainable food products from microalgae, one of the most sustainable and nutritious food sources on the planet. Jonas Günther, Co-Founder says: “Fixing our broken food system is critical in the fight against climate change, and spirulina is poised to become a powerful solution.” Start-Up Exhibition: Delegates will continue their journey of talent discovery at the Start-Up Exhibition and networking area, where they’ll meet the entrepreneurs and learn more about their scale-up ambitions. Nordetect (Denmark) is an analytical chemistry company that produces rapid analysis tools and software for nutrient management. Growers, operators, and advisors can use its Lab-on-a-Chip method of testing water, substrate, and plant sap to get immediate results, remove operational risks, and increase yield. Saffron Tech (Israel) is the first agro-tech company to develop a year-round saffron cultivation protocol on vertical farms, using precise agriculture in indoor laboratory conditions. Saffron, derived from the flower of Crocus Sativus, is considered the most expensive spice globally and an effective medicinal plant with bioactive compounds. The Indoor AgTech Innovation Summit in New York on June 23-24 will bring together 500+ of the world’s leading growers, retailers, investors, seed companies and technology providers for two high-energy days of 1-1 meetings, panel sessions, roundtable discussions, two breakfast briefings and a networking cocktail hour. The full program with the speaking faculty, start-up profiles and delegate registration for in-person or virtual attendance are available at www.indooragtechnyc.com/agenda

[Category: Events, Industry News, Conference, Greenhouse, Indoor Ag Technology, LED Grow Lights, Vertical Farming]

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[l] at 5/31/22 10:24am
Resource Innovation Institute is a non-profit organization committed to cultivating a better future for all of humanity. We measure, verify & celebrate the world’s most efficient agricultural ideas so growers can reap resilient harvests for the next hundred years. Founded in 2016 to advise governments, utilities and industry leaders on the resource impacts of cannabis cultivation, an under-studied and resource-intensive market, we have since extended our research to other sectors in partnership with the US Department of Agriculture. We believe in making immediate impact that is deliberate by design. We are an agile startup with a diverse team with many women in leadership and fulfilling technical responsibilities. Together, we lead the measurement, adoption and celebration of the world’s most efficient agricultural ideas. To take on the challenges of our changing world, we believe that food, medicine and other vital crops demand data-driven insights, shared with integrity. Our consortium of members brings perspectives from across the field—uniting architects and engineers, growers and operators, researchers and analysts. By nurturing connections in our complex and dynamic industry, we can build deeply restorative systems for people and planet. RII is funded by utilities, foundations, governments, cultivators, and leading members of the supply chain serving CEA. Its Board of Directors includes the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) and a former board member of the US Green Building Council. RII believes all issues are intersectional. Climate change can not be addressed unless and until true racial equality prevails. We therefore seek a virtual work environment where our employees and those we hire for project work are aligned with these beliefs and considered for their competence, not necessarily their education or experience. Application Details Submit an application consisting of both a cover letter and a resume including a link to your LinkedIn profile. As part of the interview process, candidates will be asked to complete a pre-hire assessment. Applicants who do not submit a cover letter will not be considered. Position Details Overview: Establishes technical positions and represents RII in technical venues and among industry standards organizations, while overseeing and guiding the organization’s operations, leading the development of PowerScore, authoring best practices guidance and research reports for the market, and delivering related training programs. Reports to: Executive Director Direct reports: Operations & Engineering Manager, Resource Efficiency Engineer Skills/experience required: Management of horticultural operations, including tracking of data on plant health and energy/water usage, and oversight of structured research projects on resource efficiencyHistory of working with a mix of indoor and greenhouse crop producers to advance resource efficiency solutions at a range of scalesDesign, construction and maintenance of CEA facilitiesEngagement in utility energy efficiency programsTechnical writingPublic speaking Skills/certifications/experience preferred: Degree in Horticulture, Engineering, Biology or other relevant scientific disciplinesExpert in automation and controls systems that help growers track and achieve resource efficiencyWater circularity strategiesKnowledge of cannabis as a cultivar and related cultivation approaches and methodsUnderstanding of MEP and building envelope systems in cultivation facilitiesProject management skills like scheduling, cost estimating, and resource balancingGood technical writer for diverse stakeholders; Adept at translating complex technical subjects to lay audiences Duties Oversee Engineering Team Operations & Engineering ManagerResource Efficiency Engineer Direct PowerScore service & enhancement Contract management and client support (e.g., USDA, Mendocino, future jurisdictions, future trade associations)Benchmarking services for producers, both voluntary and complianceData integration with membersAnalytics for Pro usersUser experience testing and improvement, in coordination with MarketingSoftware development, including contract development and oversight of external software development and system administration resources Oversee Technical Advisory Council In 2022-23, Working Groups will include:Policy, Codes & Standards (to be facilitated by ACEEE and Executive Director)Water CircularityAutomation & Control Lead development of publications on CEA resource efficiency Read and analyze existing research published on efficient and emerging technologiesAuthor Best Practices Guides and market reports (e.g., CEA Market Characterization Report)Play a lead editorial role in the collaborative development of semi-annual reports:The BenchmarkThe LandscapeWork in partnership with Marketing to develop case studies with members and data partnersAuthor technical editorials and columns in relevant industry publications and in alignment with Marketing objectivesE.g., Greenhouse Grower, Cannabis Business Times, Produce Grower Oversee development and delivery of education & training content developed for: CatalogCEA Efficiency Learning CenterCurriculum Strands (Efficient Yields, Growing Efficiency, Harvesting Savings)Tip Clips Determine technical positions on behalf of the organization Respond to public comment periods related to technical issues put forth by standards organizations (e.g., ASTM, UL, ASHRAE, DLC)Help shape policy positions, in coordination with Executive DirectorRepresent RII on technical committees of standards organizations Work Schedule & Environment Starts 6/13/22Full-time, 40 hours/week95k-120k DOERemote position; work from homeCollaborate via digital platforms with supervisor in Portland, Oregon, and team members in Portland, Burlington, Vermont, and Denver, Colorado Equal Opportunity Statement Our goal to be an accessible, diverse, and intersectional organization representing the industry we serve is only accomplished with an inclusive workforce. We are an Equal Opportunity Employer and committed to excellence through diversity. RII does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, gender, religion, national origin, disability, age, veteran status. We welcome and encourage applications from people who belong to underrepresented and/or marginalized groups. RII values the individual and social differences that every person brings to the table. APPLICANTS WHO DO NOT SUBMIT A COVER LETTER WILL NOT BE CONSIDERED.

[Category: Industry News, Business, Education, Greenhouse, Jobs, LED Grow Lights, Research]

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[l] at 5/24/22 10:00pm
The Japan Plant Factory Association (JPFA) has announced to hold a workshop entitled The Latest Developments of Plant Factories in Europe, online on June 1, 2022, in English. The webinar will provide an overview of the European plant factory market as well as the latest business and research initiatives. Roel Janssen, the chief business officer at Planet Farms, will speak on Planet Farms: Unlocking the true potential of CEA, with a sophisticated industrial approach to vertical farming, combined with Italian food quality. Then, Pavlos Kalaitzoglou, the VP Science at Infarm, will share his view on the various research topics under the title Infarm Crop Science A trip through our research program and philosophy. In addition to their talks, there will be a Q&A session/panel discussion with Eri Hayashi, Vice President of the JPFA. Registered participants in the workshop will also be allowed to view the recorded video, which does not contain its Q&A/panel discussion, anytime at their convenience later during a specified period.  The JPFA 148th workshop will take place on Wednesday, June 1, 2022, 9:00-10:30 am (CEST).  The recorded video can be watched from 6:00 am on Friday, June 3, until 6:00 am on Tuesday, June 14, 2022 (CEST). The workshop, comprising a live online seminar and a Q&A/panel discussion, is free of charge for JPFA members. Nonmembers are charged 5,000 YEN each. Anybody interested in JPFAs upcoming workshop can apply from here. For more information, click here.  Apply Here For the annual schedule of the JPFA workshops, click here. How to Become a JPFA MemberApply for JPFA membership here.  For more informationJapan Plant Factory AssociationE-mail: benkyokai@npoplantfactory.orgwww.npoplantfactory.org/en/https://npoplantfactory.org/information/study Japan Plant Factory Association The Japan Plant Factory Association, a nonprofit organization with over 200 members in Japan and abroad, is devoted to advancing the plant factory industry and controlled-environment agriculture in and outside Japan through academia-industry collaborations. The JPFA oversees plant factories on the Chiba University Kashiwanoha campus in Kashiwa, northeast of Tokyo. Also, it works on about 20 R&D projects and runs workshops and training courses.

[Category: Education, Events, Industry News, Courses, Japan Plant Factory Association, Leafy Greens, LED Grow Lights, Vertical Farming]

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[l] at 5/20/22 9:28am
About Growcer The Growcer is an innovative agri-tech startup launched in Ottawa in 2015, specializing in the manufacturing and design of modular hydroponic systems that enable commercial food production in plug-and-play 40 ft. modules. Its vertical farming technology enables customers to grow fresh vegetables in virtually any climate, having been deployed within the Arctic Circle below -50°C. Growcer has empowered conventional farmers, entrepreneurs, communities and institutions to grow food locally all year round. Growcers work has been recognized with awards including Fast Companys World Changing Ideas and the Entrepreneurs Organization and was featured on Season 13 of CBCs hit show, Dragons Den. The Growcer is looking for a driven individual with a self-starter attitude as the company enters the next phase of rapid growth and scales in select regions globally. Effective Growcer employees are tenacious, enjoy working in a fast-paced environment, and are comfortable working on big-picture challenges with lots of autonomy. All positions and work responsibilities tie back to our mission of empowering people to feed the world more sustainably, and applicants who are laser-focused on contributing to the creation of a better food system will find a workplace and team that shares their vision for sustainable agriculture. Learn more about the role and apply here: https://lnkd.in/euqrxsr2 Why Should You Apply?  Positive Social Impact: an opportunity to feel good about how your role is helping to change the lives of others through the delivery of sustainable food technologies.Benefits & Total Compensation: a competitive salary with full access to our employee health benefits plan.Flexible Hours: to create a work/life balance, we offer flex hours for all those appointments and other commitments that may arise. Vacation & Life Leave: a minimum of 3 weeks starting vacation plus an additional week to support those personal days needed for moving, sick leave, and/or unexpected emergencies. Professional Development: participation in our internal leadership development seminars tailored for managers, and access to a professional development fund to invest in additional personal and professional growth related to your field and desired career objectives. Type of Role Full-Time About the Role Growcer is looking for individuals who strive to deliver creative solutions that balance out of the box thinking and sound engineering principles. You will be responsible for the process of creating and developing new products and client specific solutions, improving the performance of existing systems and overseeing manufacturing activities. At Growcer we work as one cohesive team, and a result, you will be expected to interact with all departments, external contractors and clients to ensure each design meets the expectations of all stakeholders. This role reports directly to the Director of Product Development.  Responsibilities New Product and Technology Development Move product designs through development gates and ultimately through to commercializationDevelop detailed manufacturing drawing and assembly instructionsCollaborate with other engineers, managers, and creative team to advance product developmentEstimate and establish cost parameters and budgets for product designPrepare documentation such as testing protocols, schedules and product manualsReview and oversee the process of design through to product manufacturing Deliver projects in alignment with company methods and project sponsor wishes; close projects and codify learnings into future standardsProvide planning support and coordinate execution of activities to develop the product (modular vertical farms), manufacturing process, and/or supply chain Make and implement recommendations to improve production efficiency Support product design from initial conception through to commercialization Prototyping Work with the R&D team to take ideas and proposals, conduct research and turn them into testable prototypesManage the fabrication and testing of prototypesTrack prototype performance and resultsCoordinate external engineering contractors and prototype fabricators Strategy Contribute to an overall product roadmap that strengthens Growcer’s competitive market position and value to customersSupport special design projects and initiatives Work Environment and Culture: Further the promotion and adoption of engineering & design practices throughout Growcer. For example, by delivering “lunch and learn” training sessions to Growcer staff on product design fundamentalsBe able to operate in a fast pace and adventurous company continually pushing the boundaries of performance

[Category: Industry News, Business, Greenhouse, Hydroponics, Indoor Ag Technology, Jobs]

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[l] at 5/20/22 7:23am
Photo Credits: NASA by Albert Lin May 05, 2022 What are the challenges about growing food in space? Christina M. Johnson, PhD (of NASAs Kennedy Space Center) was kind enough to share with us some of her current research. We’re very excited about the progress! Why is it important to get food right for astronauts? Feeding astronauts isnt as straightforward as you may think! You cant just pack some protein bars and call it a day. The vitamins in the pre-packaged food brought up into space degrade over time. NASA currently has a Veggie growing unit (see below) which helps provide some of the vitamins and minerals for the astronauts. Is there a way to increase the nutritional density of what is being grown? What are the most efficient things to grow? Dr. Johnson has been testing growing microgreens for spaceflight applications with the help of VegBed growing mats. So far the results have been very promising. It performs especially well when combined with a wicking mat underneath. Why are microgreens a good choice for astronauts? They take up small space to growThey grow quickly (typical varieties in 10-14 days)They have high nutritional densityThey’re flavorful! Right now, there really isnt any way to cook in space, so being able to eat foods that need minimal prep/cooking is vital. No Weber grill for me! Can we pack more nutrients into the food grown in space? Her research also involves Agronomic Biofortifcation the deliberate use of mineral fertilizers to increase the concentration of a target mineral in edible portions of crops. Its been tested on Earth, but they are trying to replicate this in a controlled environment and expand it to nutrients that are not often present in abundance in plants (Vitamin D, Potassium, etc..). Below you can see a Cherry Belle radish variety grown on the mats. Credits: Christina M. Johnson, PhD NASA Whats next? Its critical that debris and particles are kept to a minimum within a space station. You dont want anything to get caught in sensitive electronics. They will test harvesting techniques during a parabolic flight, utilizing an enclosed glove box to help minimize floating debris. There will also be further germination testing done with simulated microgravity via a specialized hydroponic grow box (as seen below) More nutritional analysis of plants will be performed as well. The recent tests showed supplemental nutrients can increase the harvestable biomass of the microgreens. This is important since you want to try and grow greens that are the most nutrient dense. We are looking forward to seeing all the continued research from Dr. Johnson and thrilled to be a part of helping feed NASA astronauts! If you would like to learn more about Dr. Johnson and her research, please join us on Wednesday, May 25th. The NYC Agriculture collective will be hosting their monthly networking event. You won’t want to miss this one!

[Category: Industry News, Business, Education, Greenhouse, LED Grow Lights, Microgreens, Vertical Farming]

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[l] at 5/19/22 1:11pm
Apple and Android App Solution Calculates Vapor Pressure Deficit for Better Plant Steering SACRAMENTO, Calif., May 18, 2022  Dr. Greenhouse, Inc., a leading provider of state-of-the-art HVAC design and controls solutions for indoor grows, vertical farms and greenhouses, has launched the Dr. Greenhouse VPD Calculator App. The VPD Calculator app helps growers understand their indoor grow environment and its effect on plant responses and HVAC equipment operation. “Our website VPD calculator is the most visited resource on our website. Our team decided to build a mobile VPD Calculator App for growers and farmers to quickly calculate their environment’s VPD,” notes Dr. Nadia Sabeh, President of Dr. Greenhouse, Inc. “It is critical to know the best environment for plant steering and health to ensure optimal crop outcomes and timing are achieved.” Vapor pressure deficit (VPD) represents the “pressure” that air puts on the plant to transpire and move water and nutrients from the roots to other parts of the plant. For example: With low humidity and high VPD levels, there is more pressure on the plant to transpire and use more water. If plants are not well-watered under high VPD levels, they may begin to wilt.With low humidity and low VPD levels, there will be less pressure on the plant to transpire. If plants are over-watered under low VPD levels, they are prone to pest pressures. The VPD can be a valuable metric for growers to predict water use, steer crops for optimal growth, and operate HVAC equipment to achieve the desired indoor plant environment. The Dr. Greenhouse VPD Calculator App supports all crop types and includes VPD lookup tables for tomatoes, leafy greens, and cannabis. The VPD Calculator App allows growers to use their existing air temperature and humidity sensors to understand if the room condition is more suitable for vegetative, flowering, or stress-induced plants. The VPD Calculator App provides color-coded results to indicate if the room is humid (blue), vegetative (green) or reproductive (yellow), or dry (purple). For facility designers and grow house managers, the VPD Calculator App can predict evapotranspiration rates to estimate plants’ water usage and dehumidification requirements. With this information, the HVAC equipment can be designed to meet facility climate control goals. Sabeh comments on VPD, crop production, and facility HVAC design, “When the right VPD is targeted for a given crop, variables such as light source, nutrients, water, HVAC and dehumidification can be controlled to minimize operating costs while maximizing plant growth and health.” The Dr. Greenhouse VPD Calculator is free to download in Apple’s App Store and Google Play Store. About Dr. Greenhouse, Inc. Dr. Greenhouse, Inc. is a Sacramento-based agriculture and mechanical engineering design firm providing state-of-the-art HVAC design and controls solutions for indoor grows. The firm is led by Dr. Nadia Sabeh, a recognized subject matter expert in controlled environment agriculture (CEA). Dr. Greenhouse helps farmers efficiently control their environments, allowing them to produce high-quality crops within indoor grows, vertical farms and greenhouses. Dr. Greenhouse has provided expert early-stage programming and mechanical design for 150 facilities worldwide.

[Category: Industry News, Education, Greenhouse, Greenhouse Technology, Hydroponics, Technology, Vertical Farming]

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[l] at 5/18/22 12:06pm
Effective from 1 July 2022, Wilco Schoonderbeek will begin work at Horticoop as Director of Investments, a role in which he will be responsible for the comprehensive Horticoop investment process. Together with Steven van Nieuwenhuijzen (CEO) and Hend van Ravenstein (CFO), Wilco will be part of the Horticoop Board team. Investment cooperative Horticoop has been active an investment cooperative as of the end of 2021, when the cooperative became a platform for investment, innovation and development from which all stakeholders will profit: members, Horticoop businesses and the industry. The objective is to contribute to the sustainable and healthy future of the horticultural industry by investing in businesses which enhance the expertise, network and growth potential of the industry. Wilco (49) has done more than his fair share in this area of operation, and, as Director of Investments, he will be spearheading the future-oriented growth of Horticoop, leading the process in which candidate-businesses are tracked down, acquired and embedded in the investment cooperative. An experienced investor In the course of his career, Wilco has gained wide experience of the investment profession; as part of large international businesses, with consultancy firms such as Andersen, PwC and KPMG, and as an investor using both his own funds and those of other parties. In doing so, he has specialised in the field of AgroFood investments and the setting up of innovative start-ups and scale-ups aimed at achieving the ongoing sustainability of the food chain and promoting the circular economy, among other things. In addition, Wilco was responsible for the start of the Deeptechfonds, an initiative of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy and Invest-NL. Wilco has extensive knowledge of the various stages of investment pathways, including sourcing, initial screening, due diligence, structuring, implementation, completion and portfolio management. Now he is committed to deploying that expertise for Horticoop. Wilco: I consider this role to be a splendid opportunity to face a number of the big challenges that we as an industry are having to address. Ambition, courage and collaboration – and obviously the associated investments in innovations – are crucial to that pursuit. In order to guarantee the healthy future of the industry, we need to merge entrepreneurship, technology and innovation. Cooperation is essential if we are to be able to contribute in a valuable way to the food and floriculture chain. Steven van Nieuwenhuijzen, CEO of Horticoop, is enthusiastic about the appointment of Wilco Schoonderbeek: Considering Wilcos stature, we are thrilled that he is joining our business. With a view to Horticoops ambitions, his comprehensive expertise, experience and network are most welcome. What is more, Wilco is a bridge builder who can assist in capitalising on the opportunities vis-à-vis and between entrepreneurs; this goes for both Horticoop members and participations. About Horticoop The Horticoop cooperative has been working for nearly 120 years to ensure a stable future for the horticultural sector. The business cooperates with its approximately 400 members, all of whom run a professional horticultural operation, and with its businesses in the fields of lighting, climate, technology and substrates. The Horticoop businesses, including Lensli, Horticoop Technical Services, Lumiforte and HortAmericas are domiciled both at home and abroad. Horticoop entered the market as an investment party as of 1 December 2021.

[Category: Industry News, Business, Greenhouse, Greenhouse Technology, Hydroponics, Technology, Vertical Farming]

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[l] at 5/13/22 7:16am
Serge Boon, founder of Boon Greenhouse Consultancy, said growers who are interested in selling to a high-end clientele, including resorts, restaurants and individuals, need to be able to offer exceptional quality produce. Photos courtesy of Brush Creek Ranch An increasing number of upscale resorts, restaurants and affluent individuals have begun operating their own greenhouses to produce the fruits and vegetables they want to prepare and consume. While many restaurants across the country lost sales or went out of business during the COVID-19 pandemic, some had no problem maintaining their customer base. Serge Boon, founder of Boon Greenhouse Consultancy in Hendersonville, N.C., said he has seen an increase in business for restaurants and resorts that serve a high-end clientele. He has also seen a growing demand from people who want to establish greenhouse programs to produce crops that are not readily available to ensure they have a consistent supply of quality food. “These include luxury resorts that employ chefs who want specific types of fruits and vegetables,” Boon said. “More of these up-scale resorts are looking to produce their own food so they have more control over what is available and the quality of the food produced. This enables these companies to be less dependent on outside suppliers. Producing their own food enables these companies to offer their guests a more high-end dining experience.” Boon said the pandemic also didn’t have much effect on his customers who wanted to increase their food security by producing their own crops. “The grocery stores which were having supply side issues had less food to offer,” he said. “If someone has the opportunity and ability to build their own greenhouse so food can be produced year round that eliminates having to rely on what’s available at the grocery stores. This is an up-and-coming market no matter what happens with the pandemic.” Up-scale resorts and restaurants are looking to produce their own food providing them with more control over what is available and the quality of the food produced. Controlling quality, quantity and variety A major advantage for companies starting to produce their own food is they can control the quality and don’t have to purchase and bring in as much food on a daily basis. “These companies can tailor the type of produce and quality that they want for their menus,” Boon said. “The chefs provide a lot of input on what is grown in the companies’ greenhouses. This is almost the reverse of how it normally works for many restaurants. Generally chefs have to take what is available from local growers and suppliers. In the case of these high-end restaurants, which operate their own greenhouses, the chefs ask that specific varieties are grown for them.” Boon, who was a grower for the luxury resort Brush Creek Ranch in Wyoming, said most of the companies and individuals he works with put up smaller size greenhouses ranging from 5,000 to 20,000 square feet. The greenhouse at Brush Creek Ranch is a 20,000-square-foot facility that is used year round to grow fresh produce. “A large percentage of the produce that is grown is for in-house use,” Boon said. “About half of the greenhouse owners I work with operate their own restaurants. In most cases, they are producing for their own restaurants or their own consumption. There is only a handful that sells the produce commercially. “There are also individuals who can afford to build a greenhouse because they are seeking certain fruits and vegetables that would normally be difficult to source. They want to be self-sustaining by growing their own food on land they have purchased. They hire someone to grow the produce and chefs to prepare their food.” Boon said some of these affluent individuals want certain crops grown on their property for personal consumption because they may be difficult to source from local growers or suppliers. “They want fresh, pesticide-free produce year round,” he said. “There are individuals who want specific produce year round like locally-grown heirloom tomatoes that aren’t available so they have to grow them themselves.” Production requirements Boon said any food crop can be grown in a greenhouse, it just depends on whether it makes economic sense to produce it.  “For the companies and individuals I work with, it’s more a case of them wanting specific crops and then building a greenhouse to be able to produce them,” he said. It’s also important as to whether they want to produce those crops year round. Wanting heirloom tomatoes year round is different than only wanting them during the summer.”  Some of the crops being grown by resorts, restaurants and individuals in their own greenhouses include specialty broccoli, rainbow carrots, heirloom tomatoes, mushrooms, specialty herbs and edible flowers. Boon designs a succession plan for crops that will be grown year round and seasonally. “We determine how much needs to be planted each week to be able to deliver a certain yield,” he said. “We predict yields across the year to determine where and when the crops should be planted. We make a specific internal plan in regards to crops, i.e. two rows of tomatoes, two rows of peppers in one zone. In the next zone they may plant strawberries. We walk them through how to set up the production zones and how to run them”. Boon said he does sometimes get asked to design a greenhouse for a crop that he hasn’t grown. “I will research the crops to see what the production requirements are for the crops,” he said. “Occasionally I am asked about unfamiliar crops and then I have to research as to the best way for growing a particular crop. Sometimes it doesn’t make economic sense, but if they can afford to grow the crop and the need is there, it can be done.” Boon said he can also assist with the best cultural practices for producing the crops. “We can walk them through the whole production plan,” he said. “This varies between clients because if they employ an experienced grower we don’t have to do that. Sometimes it’s from scratch with us helping with crop scheduling and production.” Greenhouse, production system options Boon said in most cases he advises his customers to grow in soilless substrates or hydroponically for ease of management. “We advise them of their options for producing the crops they want to grow and provide them with a list of pros and cons,” he said. “In regards to environmental control, it can be harder to provide the specific climate conditions for each of these specialty crops. The larger the greenhouse the more zones that can be created and the more we can tailor the environment for the crops. “Because there are multiple crops being grown in some of these smaller greenhouses, there has to be some give and take. There is so much variability between crops that it’s difficult to provide the best growing conditions for every crop. Most of these companies are installing the same type of sophisticated environmental control systems being used in most commercial greenhouse operations. These are literally a smaller version of commercial greenhouses just with a lot more different crops.” Most of the companies and individuals Serge Boon has worked with have put up greenhouses ranging in size from 5,000 to 20,000 square feet. Production opportunities for growers Boon said growers who are interested in selling to this high-end clientele need to be able to offer these resorts, restaurants and individuals exceptional quality produce. “There is really a need for this type of produce,” he said. “It’s becoming harder and harder to find some of these crops in certain areas. Some examples include specialty broccoli, rainbow carrots, heirloom tomatoes, mushrooms, specialty herbs and edible flowers. “Growers interested in serving this clientele definitely have to know their market. They have to know the up-scale customer base that is near them, including sportsmen’s clubs, resorts and restaurants. The growers need to determine these potential customers’ needs in regards to specialty produce. Growers need to first do their market research before they start building a greenhouse.” Boon said this up-scale clientele is an up-and-coming market. “These are people who want to have greenhouses in their backyards so they always have fresh produce available rather than being dependent on growers and suppliers from outside the U.S.,” he said. “I’m not a believer in shipping fresh produce around the world. Right now this up-scale market is for those people who can afford to grown their own produce. Over time I’m hoping that more people will get involved with growing their own food.” For more: Boon Greenhouse Consultancy, serge@boongreenhouse.com This article is property of Urban Ag News and was written by David Kuack, a freelance technical writer in Fort Worth, Texas.

[Category: Exclusives from Urban Ag News, Business, Greenhouse, Greenhouse Technology, Hydroponics, LED Grow Lights, Technology]

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[l] at 5/11/22 10:42am
The Growcer is an innovative agri-tech startup launched in Ottawa in 2015, specializing in the manufacturing and design of modular hydroponic systems that enable commercial food production in plug-and-play 40 ft. modules. Its vertical farming technology enables customers to grow fresh vegetables in virtually any climate, having been deployed within the Arctic Circle below -50°C. Growcer has empowered conventional farmers, entrepreneurs, communities and institutions to grow food locally all year round. Growcers work has been recognized with awards including Fast Companys World Changing Ideas and the Entrepreneurs Organization and was featured on Season 13 of CBCs hit show, Dragons Den. The Growcer is looking for a driven individual with a self-starter attitude as the company enters the next phase of rapid growth and scales in select regions globally. Effective Growcer employees are tenacious, enjoy working in a fast-paced environment, and are comfortable working on big-picture challenges with lots of autonomy. All positions and work responsibilities tie back to our mission of empowering people to feed the world more sustainably, and applicants who are laser-focused on contributing to the creation of a better food system will find a workplace and team that shares their vision for sustainable agriculture. Why Should You Apply? • Positive Social Impact: an opportunity to feel good about how your role is helping to change the lives of others through the delivery of sustainable food technologies. • Benefits & Total Compensation: a competitive salary with full access to our employee health benefits plan. • Flexible Hours: to create a work/life balance, we offer flex hours for all those appointments and other commitments that may arise. • Vacation & Life Leave: a minimum of 3 weeks starting vacation plus an additional week to support those personal days needed for moving, sick leave, and/or unexpected emergencies. • Professional Development: participation in our internal leadership development seminars tailored for managers, and access to a professional development fund to invest in additional personal and professional growth related to your field and desired career objectives. About the Role Type of Role: Full-Time, salaried Growcer is seeking an experienced, detail-oriented Senior Horticultural Engineer to join our growing team. In this position, you will play a key role in the overall success of our organization by planning, managing, and monitoring the development of our fully indoor hydroponic strawberry farm platform. Predominantly working with members of the Product and R&D departments, you will coordinate the engineering functions associated with component specification, design, manufacturing, validation, deployment, and scalability of Growcer’s strawberry offering. As we are currently in the prototype stage, you will work closely with the scientific team on enabling production system changes as they relate to knowledge transfer from current and future research results. You will be responsible for overseeing all engineering projects, processes, budgets, and schedules associated with strawberry farm development, as well as the regular communication of progress and deliverables to all stakeholders. This role reports directly to the Director of Product Development. Learn more about the role and apply here. Interested candidates should submit a concise cover letter and résumé to:careers@thegrowcer.ca. We look forward to meeting you!

[Category: Business, Industry News, Greenhouse, Hydroponics, Jobs, Strawberries]

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[l] at 5/6/22 7:21am
Article originally published by Wageningen University The third Urban Greenhouse Challenge is all about social impact. Aiding the student teams in writing the best proposal for an urban farm that contributes to quality of life are a host of industry experts from the Urban Greenhouse Challenge partner network. They are very enthusiastic about this year’s competitors, though they’ve had to provide them with a reality check or two. The teams of the Urban Greenhouse Challenge #3 are working towards handing in their final proposals. Based on these, the ten most convincing concepts will be announced on 8 June, competing for a place in the Grand Finals on 29 June. On their way to this finished proposal, the students have received advice from industry experts from the partner network, as well as local residents around the site of the urban farm. These advisory sessions with expert coaches are integral to the process of the Challenge, taking the proposals to the next level while teaching the student teams about every aspect that is important to such a complex project: from horticulture to architecture to economics. Sabrina Carvalho, Rosalie van Schie and Peter van den Dool gave their fair share of advice this year. Unanimously, they emphasised how fun and interesting it is to see students tackle these real world challenges. What did the experts think about this year’s Challenge and how did they work with the teams to create fully fleshed-out concepts? No-holds-barred creativity Peter van den Dool, Company Development Officer at Van der Knaap, left his meeting early to explain why he wanted to coach teams in this year’s Challenge. ‘I love to stay in contact with people who are still learning. They come up with all these new ideas because they are still discovering how it all works. It’s a phase of no-holds-barred creativity. These teams are not yet stuck in returning thought patterns.’ It’s not just interesting for Peter personally, companies like Van der Knaap are looking to cooperate with anyone who can bring fresh ideas to the table. ‘Signify has been working in urban and city farming for many years’, tells plant specialist Sabrina Carvalho. ‘We even have our own Research Centre for that purpose. So joining this Challenge is part of our nature, you could say. Plus I just love to see how young creative minds approach urban farming.’ ‘While studying animal and livestock farming, I had looked into the case of bringing the agricultural world and society closer together,’ tells Rosalie van Schie, representing Cauberg Huygen when talking about the specifics of the Urban Greenhouse Challenge #3. ‘Now I wanted to connect students working on that problem to all the knowledge inside our company.’ From big ideas to realizable plans ‘It’s such a diverse group of students, from all over the world, and the ideas are as diverse,’ tells Rosalie. A group that compartmentalized different parts of their urban farm caught Sabrina’s attention. ‘Greenhouses, outdoor vegetable patches, fishponds, chickens. And they wanted to use the waste streams from one compartment for the other. It’s impressive. These teams have already done a lot of research.’ ‘I saw a concept with an on-site day-care, for the employees to bring their kids,’ tells Peter. ‘And a concept with a focus on teaching locals how to grow vegetables themselves and how to eat more healthy.’ Simple ideas that make an impact. ‘Big ideas, that’s how most of the teams I coached started out,’ says Rosalie. ‘The word “futuristic” comes to mind.’ Coaching is often about helping a team focus on the essentials of their ideas. Peter, who mostly gave advice on the students’ business cases, had that same impression. ‘You have to start out that way, with endless possibilities. But then it becomes essential to build a sustainable plan, that is financially stable in the long term. The question becomes: what can you realize?’ Simplify, was Sabrina’s motto. ‘These concepts need to be implemented in the next two years!’ A realistic challenge ‘You’re just continually asking questions,’ explains Peter. ‘How do you make this affordable? How do you create jobs? What do the people need?’ ‘Of course, every project has its stressors,’ says Rosalie. ‘You really get confronted with all it takes: the stakeholders, the rules, the logistics, the costs.’ But everyone has fun as well, including the coaches. Sabrina, who works with greenhouses mostly, had to dig for her knowledge about open field agriculture for a concept with no indoor production at all. ‘Oh, I haven’t talked about this for a while!’ ‘The students participating in this Challenge are really getting to know what it takes to work on these kinds of problems,’ tells Sabrina. ‘The conversations they had with me, are the conversations we at Signify have with our own clients. I thought: if only I could have done this when I was a student!’

[Category: Education, Industry News, Greenhouse, Hydroponics, Indoor Ag Technology, Technology, Wageningen University]

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[l] at 5/3/22 1:40pm
Finding trained growers is a major challenge for our industry. Your best investment is to upskill your own workers to make better crop management decisions by learning the underlying horticultural science of plant growth. Greenhouse 101 is a great introduction to the Greenhouse Training Online program offered by the University of Florida IFAS Extension. It is designed for people with no formal training in horticulture that work in the greenhouse or nursery industry, or those that wish to join the horticulture industry. Topics covered are plant parts and functions, photosynthesis and growth, greenhouse technology, flowering, compactness and branching, irrigation, nutrition, and plant health. The course is offered in English and Spanish. Join over 870 growers who have graduated from Greenhouse 101 since 2015 in our award-winning program and receive a customized certificate of completion. Rated 4.4 out of 5 stars by grower participants. The course runs from May 30 to June 25, 2021. The cost is $249 per participant, with a 20% discount if you register 5 or more. All course material is completely online and available at any time of the day, and includes pre-recorded videos, an interactive discussion board with PhD professors, and quizzes. Two new modules are activated each week during the course, for a total of 8 learning modules. Instruction is at your own pace and time within the 4 weeks of the course, with a typical time commitment of about 5 hours per week. Students praise this methodology: “The ability to do coursework at your own pace was new to me and was much appreciated.” Click here to register (http://hort.ifas.ufl.edu/training/). For more information, go to http://hort.ifas.ufl.edu/training/, or contact Greenhouse Training, Environmental Horticulture, University of Florida, USA, Email: greenhousetraining@ifas.ufl.edu. B-Greenhouse101_2022Download

[Category: Education, Industry News, Courses, Greenhouse, Hydroponics, Indoor Ag Technology, University of Florida]

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