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[l] at 5/16/23 5:50pm
Somewhere mysteriously in California  Grapes are an economically important commodity, supplying fresh, dried, and processed markets worldwide. Although grapes are not a crop you immediately consider a beneficiary of CEA technology, it may be possible to adapt field agriculture, putting in measures to circumvent climate change and disease.  The last few years I’ve been attempting to grow my own grapevine indoors, so when Chris Higgins shared the main photo I felt excited to learn how they were using LED lights to help fruit mature on vines in California.  Could CEA also work for my grapevines? Scotland is not known for wine but with changing climates and carefully chosen hardy varieties it could provide some competition for our national drink. Success at home is just around the corner as I begin season three with my black Hamburg grape (Schiava Grossa) grafted on S04 rootstock. It’s hopeful too, as earlier than expected it is producing trusses. The learning curve is not as steep as you may think and the trick is to not give up with a fruitless vine.  We will take a look at the growing environment, the diseases that can be encountered and the pests that need to be eliminated by controlling some of the processes. Then we will examine some real Californian vineyards and how they are adapting and integrating CEA technology to increase efficiency and yield, battling against ever changing climates and earlier than predicted seasonal frosts.  Year 3 indoors black Hamburg (dessert grape)  in central Scotland Wine has an important role in world trade Grapes were one of the earliest fruits cultivated for use as a beverage, and statues in ancient Roman culture were often adorned with grapes and wine decanters. In fact, many of the production principles first developed in ancient Rome can be found in winemaking today. Wine is classed as a cultured beverage and body, flavor, aroma, keynotes and vintage all play a part in how we decide to consume it. Aside from commercial vineyards, many vines can be cultivated under glass. This can be a lean-to, a conservatory, a polytunnel or a glasshouse, it doesn’t really matter. Mine are grown in a conservatory with great levels of natural light and temperatures rising to 105°F which helps ripen the fruit.  The global wine market was valued at USD 417.85 billion in 2020 and growth is expected to expand to 6.4% CAGR by 2028. Currently, Chile has the leading share of exports worldwide with more than 20% of the market, followed by the USA and Italy, the Netherlands, South Africa, Turkey and China. Changing consumer preferences are evident with demand for fresh fruit, looking for year-round availability and consumers more willing to pay more for imported out-of-season fresh grapes.  Growing and Grafting Vines Choosing the right rootstock is vital to ensure a successful harvest since the parent vine, Vitis. vinifera does not provide adequate resistance against phylloxera Vastatrix, a deadly root infection caused by the aphid-like insect, Daktulosphaira vitifoliae (Fitch). Phylloxera weakens the vines causing root galls making it susceptible to fungal infections. It has plagued vineyards, decimating crops in California, and completely devastated vines planted on AXR1 type B rootstocks. It is estimated to have cost the industry $6 billion to uproot valuable mature vines and replant with vines grafted onto sturdier rootstocks.  To overcome this disease, grapes are grown on rootstocks from a variety of Vitis species selected from native areas or hybrids that use native species to form new rootstocks. The most commonly used are Vitis rupestris, V. riparia, V. berlandieri, and V. champinii. A grafted vine consists of the scion which is seen above ground and the rootstock which provides the root system and lower trunk joined at the graft union (protected with wax like above).  Image by Wine Folly Pruning is an artform and traditional viticulture techniques require patience and skill passed down through generations. Below are a few training techniques used in viticulture but you can learn more by following Dan from apicaltexas with great videos on pruning techniques in the field.  Developing the vineyard should factor the best rootstock suited for particular environmental conditions. Soil type, pest resistance, tolerance to drought, wetness, salinity, and lime must all be considered when siting a vineyard. Most experts suggest loamy soil as the best type of soil for grape growing. A crumbly mix of sand, silt, and clay when blended with other soils in the right amounts offers the ideal soil type. This is because the clay in loam drains well but also contains moderate amounts of water and nutrients within the preferred pH range (pH 6.5-6.8). Sonoma and Napa Valley are both loam soil regions.  Even though grapevines are considered relatively tolerant to water deficits, growth and yield can be reduced in drought-like conditions. Drought tolerant rootstocks enable the scion to grow and yield even when water supplies are limited, a desirable trait if irrigation is likely to cause waterlogging in heavy clay soil. Acidic soils are common in many viticultural growing regions, and liming is common-practice to increase soil pH. The salinity of irrigation water and rising water tables can also affect productivity in grapevines which can have a  detrimental effect on wine quality. Rootstocks can have a pronounced influence on the mineral nutrition of the fruiting variety. Vigorous vines can deplete zinc levels while increasing the uptake of potassium with regular soil analysis crucial to produce the best fruit.  While growing under cover may not suit large scale vineyards, certainly the early stages can be started off under greenhouse control much like blueberries. A drip irrigation system will work well to ensure a good source of minerals is available at the root base with free drainage.  If you are planning to grow in containers, a half barrel size is more than adequate with a light multipurpose compost. There’s no doubt selection of soil can be tricky because the soil type needs to work for both the vine and the rootstock. Remember sandy soil seems to have an advantage in resistance to phylloxera. Microclimates & Disease Prevention  Year one begins with training the cordon or guyot from the rootstock to produce two dominant shoots. Year two and the tendrils will form without fruiting but it is not until year three that fruit trusses will become visible on most vines. These can then be trained as desired with supports. How vigorous the growth develops will hugely depend on whether it’s grown as scions or as dominant root stocks.  Mildew, powdery (Erisyphe necator) and downy (Plasmopara viticola) mildew are the predominant diseases encountered in viticulture. These favor successive periods of hot and humid conditions. Suppression of grapevine powdery mildew is problematic with resistance built up to systemic fungicides. This can also lead to weakened vines and susceptibility to Botrytis (botrytis cinerea) another fungal disease which affects almost every part of the vine, usually caused by high humidity coupled with strong winds. Mitigation traditionally introduces better airflow through the truss and canopy, pinching out individual berries can assist, allowing for circulation to circumvent rot problems. New ideas using light treatments are being trialed at Cornell university and UV treatments applied once a week up to 200 J/m2 on Chardonnay vines have proven to reduce powdery and downy mildew conidia germination by almost 100% and 50% respectively.  Image sourced from David M. Gadoury, Cornell. LEDs have also been shown to boost yields. RB light encourages leaf growth and fruit maturation but little experimentation has been possible due to field positioning of grapes. Perhaps in the future we will see these autonomous tractors lighting up fields at night. Frost damage The French prevent early bud loss by using fire candles between vines. It’s a risky business balancing crop loss from frost with fire damage if not controlled. Water sprays are often employed to protect against frost damage by forming ice crystals around the buds during cold weather.  Microclimates play a significant role in wine quality and cool ocean breezes inland result in thicker skins on the berries resulting in more color, tannin and concentration of flavor. Field light spectrum can assist fruit bud development  Improving knowledge of environmental triggers for bud burst in grapes can help to optimize plant productivity, especially in marginal climates. In particular, an improved knowledge of the physiology of bud burst is fundamental to enable better crop management. The point where a quiescent axillary bud commences regrowth is governed by both metabolic and signaling functions, driven by light, energy, and oxygen availability. Several grapevine studies have investigated the influence of low-intensity light on shoot physiology, suggesting that it is adapted to a low-light environment. Removing the apex can result in axillary bud outgrowth, as can changes in light intensity and quality. Axillary bud outgrowth is regulated by signals from the apex, which contain several light quality and quantity sensing pigments. These phytochromes sense red and far-red light, while cryptochromes and phototropins are involved in the perception of blue light. Accumulating evidence supports the function of photoreceptors in blue light perception resulting in activation of photomorphogenic gene expression, stimulating bud outgrowth. Field trials with inter-canopy LED lights in California. Reach out if you need advice, we are here to help.  These photoreceptors regulate the expression of different transcription factors to coordinate light-dependent photomorphogenesis.  An early indicator of the transition to bud burst is ‘sap-flow’ preceded by an increase in xylem pressure leading the an increase in auxin and sugars in the sap. Applying light theory helps improve knowledge of the physiology of bud burst which is fundamental to better canopy and crop forecasting, as the timing and coordination of this event will influence flowering, fruitset, and ripening. Indoor low intensity RB LED lights in Scotland year 2 with no trusses but plenty of tendrils and good vine growth. Pests Leafhoppers, cochylis and Lobesia botrana are dreaded pests that cause considerable damage to grape crops. IPM plays an important role in scouting for early damage to prevent disease. Prevention by spraying crops with regulated fungicides helps limit damage.   Micropropagation of new grape varieties  Starting Clean Fungal and viral infections have plagued vineyards particularly in California where in the 1980s the deadly root infection phylloxera returned, completely devastating vines planted on AXR1 rootstocks.  Viruses reduce plant vigor and delay bud break, and can be transmitted through vegetative propagation. Rapid micropropagation techniques can produce clean, disease-free, and vigorous plant material in a shorter time period, compared to conventional propagation techniques.  There are many reasons why breeding is important to the wine industry, and my friends at PCT wrote a neat article on why growing clean clones is one of the most efficient methods to scale grape plantlets.  New growth from a nodal cutting of my black Hamburg in initiation MS media growing under different low intensity LED spectrums. A number of micropropagation techniques can be employed to clone grapes. Meristem culture induced from nodal cuttings can help to eliminate endophytes and produce virus free clones like above.  Sweet seedless grapes like cotton candy are produced via embryogenesis. Others like Selma Pete, a white grape, are grown for the raisin market. The power of breeding a particular variety for a select market can pay dividends.  Health properties of grapes Health properties of grapes and grape juice are well documented particularly the black varieties which have higher anthocyanin levels, with known anti-inflammatory properties. Grape juice is a great way to boost immune systems and stay healthy. What we do know for sure is that resveratrol is well absorbed in the body and offers some exciting anticancer properties. Probably best to consume through black grape juice if you are concerned about the alcohol content in wine.  Turning grapes into wine  ‘The older the vine the better the wine’ is a common saying in the industry, meaning the skin to pulp ratio increases creating a more intense flavor. Vines can be anywhere from 20 years to 120 years old and still produce good quality fruit. Some growers also believe older vines with deep root systems are more efficient at transferring minerals.  One thing’s for sure, there’s more science in wine making than you can shake a stick at! It’s chemistry without cooking. Even for hobbyists it’s a great pastime and relatively cheap to get started. As a student I was taught how to make wine in demijohns, it was a relatively simple process. Yeast varieties can also have a significant effect on alcohol production. My final year degree project was to establish the budding rate of Saccharomyces cerevisiae, the most common species of yeast in winemaking. Ah, that stirred tank fermenter with all those sensors, part biology, part engineering….. Begin with good quality grapes and crush and press down hard until the bunches are smashed and the juice is released. For reds, ferment the juice, skins and seeds after removing stems.  At least 5 gallons of white grape juice can make five gallons of wine. Pour the juice into a demijohn. White grape juice is green to start and as it oxidizes it will turn a brown color during fermentation. Add wine yeast at a comfortable room temperature. It will foam as it releases carbon dioxide within a day or two, which signals the start of the process. Use an airlock to keep oxygen out and allow the carbon dioxide produced by to escape.  Red ‘must’ can be fermented in a large open container with just a towel, add wine yeast, and give it a good stir. It may begin to ferment in as little as 12 hours. Red wines need to be stirred, at least twice per day when fermentation is going strong. You’ll see skin floating on the surface but just stir down regularly. Red wine should be around 80°F during fermentation. Test the sugar levels of the fermenting juice periodically with a basic hydrometer. It’s measured in degrees Brix, which equals sugar percentage will reduce to -2 Brix once fermentation is complete. When the wine tastes like something you’d enjoy drinking, it’s time to bottle. Most white wines should mature after four to nine months whereas reds may take from six months to a year. You can learn more about winemaking from a course at Cornell or perhaps the ‘personality’ of wine from Jancis Robinson, an influential wine critic. Wine will benefit from a few weeks or months aging in the bottle, but who can wait that long?  My top reds are Spanish and Italian and I’m partial to a Californian rose. Chris would not say no to anything from the Napa Valley. Slàinte Mhath.  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: Business, EatThis, Functional Food, Food Production, LED Grow Lights, Technology]

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[l] at 5/10/23 4:47pm
The Ohio Controlled Environment Agriculture Center (OHCEAC)’s annual conference will host four internationally and nationally renowned speakers of key areas of plant lighting, root-zone substrate sciences, plant sensing technologies, and crop production physiology to advance the sustainability of controlled environment agriculture (CEA). James Altland (USDA-ARS): New Concepts for Managing Soilless Substrates for Sustainability & Crop Growth Bruce Bugbee (Utah State University): Turning Photons into Food Murat Kacira (University of Arizona): Advancement of Plant Sensing Technology for Sustainable Crop Production Under Controlled Environment Ricardo Hernández (NC State University): Indoor Precision Propagation of Horticultural and Industrial Crops To learn more about our keynote speakers, please check out their bios on our conference page.  Tentative Conference Schedule The conference will also feature eight invited research presentations by academic and industry based controlled environment research groups.   Fadi Al-Daoud (OMAFRA)Luis Cañas (Ohio State University)Brendan Higgins (Auburn University)Michelle Jones (Ohio State University) Peter Ling (Ohio State University)Yujin Park (Arizona State University)Uttara Samarakoon (Ohio State University)Kellie Walters (University of Tennessee) REGISTER FOR THE OHCEAC CONFERENCE TODAY! Join us on July 19th for OHCEAC’s second annual conference “Advancement of Sustainable Controlled Environment Crop Production Sciences and Technologies. The OHCEAC conference will be accessible in-person at the Controlled Environment Agriculture Research Complex (CEARC) in Columbus, OH or online via Zoom. Please visit the OHCEAC conference main page to register! CONFERENCE SPONSORS CONFERENCE MEDIA PARTNER

[Category: Education, Events, Conference, Greenhouse, Hydroponics, Ohio State University, Vertical Farming]

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[l] at 5/5/23 6:15am
Want to join the growing horticulture industry? Need to freshen up your horticulture knowledge? Do you have employees that would benefit from knowing the why of their day-to-day work? Train yourself or your staff with University of Florida IFAS Extension’s award-winning online program. All Greenhouse Training Online courses are taught in English and Spanish. The first course of the year, Greenhouse 101, starts on May 29, 2023. To register, visit http://hort.ifas.ufl.edu/training/. Each course is completely online, and includes pre-recorded videos, an interactive discussion board with PhD professors, supporting educational material and quizzes. The course material is available any time of the day, and two new modules are activated each week during the course for the four weeks of each course, for a total of 8 learning modules. Experienced university instructors are available to help, and graduates receive a personalized certificate of completion. There is a course for every level of knowledge and skill. This year features a new advanced course, Environmental Crop Management, that will teach you underlying principles of plant physiology and how concepts such as vapor pressure deficit apply to greenhouse climate control. Greenhouse 101 teaches the underlying horticultural science of plant growth to growers who lack a formal training in horticulture and is a great introduction to the program. If you are interested in exploring the horticulture industry and have no previous education, this is the course for you! Topics included are plant parts, photosynthesis and growth, greenhouse technology, flowering, compactness, branching, irrigation, nutrition, and plant health. Join the over 3800 growers who have successfully graduated from Greenhouse Training Online courses. We have an 80% completion rate, and our participants provide positive reviews: “Thanks for the opportunity to continue each of our educations with a realistic and flexible program to successfully complete while working full time”, “Courses are very well crafted by growers for growers.” Supervisors that have enrolled their employees also said: “The courses helped our team understand a lot of the work we do in a much more holistic way.” We offer a 20% discount when you register 5 or more. For more information, including discounts for multiple registrations email us at: greenhousetraining@ifas.ufl.edu. A-GreenhouseTrainingOnline_2023Download B-Greenhouse101_2023Download

[Category: Education, Industry News, Greenhouse, Hydroponics, University of Florida]

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[l] at 4/24/23 10:10pm
Are you new in strawberry? The Ohio State’s comprehensive learning opportunity for greenhouse strawberry production is back! Dr. Chieri Kubota & Mark Kroggel, the North American experts of Controlled Environment Agriculture Strawberry Physiology and Technology, are offering this opportunity online. The self-paced course will consist of previously recorded lectures covering basics on strawberry physiology and production practices in greenhouses – topics include 1) cultivars, 2) transplants and flowering physiology, 3) crop schedule, 4) nutrient solution and rootzone management, 5) environmental conditions and benchmark yields, and 6) IPM and environmental disorders.Students will be given two weeks (May 1st to 11th) to complete all six lectures, followed by an interactive live 2-hour discussion session with instructors on May 12th, 2023. Multiple live sessions will be scheduled to accommodate your availability and time zone. You will continue to have access to the course materials until May 31st, 2023. Course fee is $85 per person.  Registration site will open on April 1st. Please let us know if you have questions.The course is most suitable for those who are new in controlled environment agriculture and interested in strawberry production under protected cultivation conditions. Deadline to Enroll: April 30th, 2023 Course Accessibility: May 1st, 2023  May 31st, 2023 Live Discussion Session: May 12th, 2023 (time TBD) https://u.osu.edu/indoorberry/ Questions About the Course? Dr. Chieri Kubota: kubota.10@osu.edu Ohio Controlled Environment Agriculture Center (OHCEAC)

[Category: Education, Industry News, Greenhouse, Hydroponics, Strawberries]

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[l] at 4/22/23 12:42pm
The produce safety teams from Auburn University, Alabama A&M University, and the University of Georgia would like to invite you to participate in this survey to collect information about knowledge gaps in food safety practices among indoor produce growers.   Who should participate? You may participate if you are an adult over 18 years of age and are a produce grower, harvester, packer, seller, food safety personnel, or otherwise involved in the production of fresh produce using indoor agriculture methods, including hydroponics and aquaponics. Participants will be asked to complete an online Qualtrics survey, which will take around 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the farmers food safety practices.  This survey is voluntary and anonymous.  There are no foreseeable risks associated with participation in the survey. There are no costs to complete the survey. Your participation will be used to improve the quality of food safety training and outreach programs for indoor, soilless growing. Additionally, if you choose, you may provide contact information to be entered into a raffle for a $100 prepaid debit card as compensation for completing the survey. Ten participants will be randomly selected to win after the survey is closed. If you do not wish to enter the raffle or provide contact information, you may still complete the survey without doing so.  Why should you participate? The purpose of this survey is to improve the quality of food safety educational programs and to develop a targeted food safety educational curriculum for indoor produce growers.  Link to the survey: https://auburn.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_6YEJktzNokeiXxc  Go To Survey  Questions? If you would like to know more information about this survey, an information letter can be obtained by sending me an email at czr0079@auburn.edu. If you decide to participate after reading the letter, you can access the survey from a link in the letter.  This work is supported by the Food Safety Outreach Program grant no. 22022-70020-37574 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

[Category: Education, Industry News, Business, Greenhouse, Survey, Vertical Farming]

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[l] at 4/21/23 9:27am
The EU wants to make the transition to a circular food system, where waste is minimised, waste products are recycled and our impact on the planet is reduced.  But what will we eat in the circular food system? What kinds of animals will we keep? And what crops will we grow? An international group of researchers led by Hannah van Zanten (Wageningen University & Research) has outlined the opportunities for the EU & the UK (EU27+UK) in four scenarios, starting with the current system and culminating in a fully circular food system. Their findings were published in Nature Food on April 17. The hard figures reveal that there are huge gains to be made if we switch to a circular food system, and the long-running study by Van Zanten and colleagues reached some striking conclusions. For example, the researchers demonstrate that as much as 71% less agricultural land would be needed in a fully circular agriculture system. A 29% per capita reduction in greenhouse gases is also feasible, even while still producing enough food for a healthy diet for all. Circularity requires a food systems approach “The figures reveal that a circular food system has huge potential benefits for both our own health and the health of our planet,” says Hannah van Zanten.“There are many uncertainties affecting the food system, such as the war in Ukraine. There will only be more such uncertainties in the future, in part due to climate change and the continually expanding global population. So we need to think carefully about how to redesign our food system. Choices will need to be made which might results in  trade-offs, like increasing the global food supply versus making more room for biodiversity. That’s why we worked out four scenarios to predict the impact of these choices and reveal the interconnections within the food system. ”Four scenarios: from production-driven to fully circular Four scenarios were developed: a baseline scenario (the current production-driven system) and three scenarios based on circular principles.In the first of the three circular scenarios (CirAgri), circular principles are applied to the production systems while we continue our current food consumption pattern. In the second scenario (CirHealth), the current consumption pattern is transformed into a healthy dietary pattern (based on the idea that overconsumption is basically a form of waste). Both scenarios reduce the amount of agricultural land required by over two thirds and decrease greenhouse gas emissions by 22% (if we continue our current consumption pattern) and by 29% if we switch to a healthy diet.In the final scenario (CirPop+), Europe’s agricultural land is used to produce as much healthy food as possible. In this scenario, we could feed an additional 767 million people (+149%) outside Europe and so contribute to alleviating the global food crisis. This will, however, require using all of Europe’s agricultural land for this purpose. Moreover, total greenhouse emissions increase by 55% in this scenario. What is required for the transition? The following conclusions apply to the transition to a circular food system in the EU27+UK: Consumption patterns need to shift to healthier diets. Consumption of animal products must fall by about 50%. Livestock will play an important role in the transition, but their numbers must be drastically reduced. Milk and fish will remain relatively important, while beef cattle and pigs will virtually disappear. Fewer cereals and fewer fodder crops will be grown, but relatively higher volumes of other crops such as soybeans will need to be produced. The current crop rotation system diminishes the potential of the circular system. Completely avoiding feed food competition will actually increase the amount of agricultural land required because feed crops can then no longer be used within rotation. One solution could be to increase the proportion of food crops in rotations but this requires  deploying new agro-ecological systems and diversification of cropping. Organic and mineral manure will still be needed in circular food systems. The proportion of organic manure could be increased, for example, by making optimal use of human manure. The land required for production is reduced, particularly grassland. This could offer opportunities to improve biodiversity in some areas. The transition will require planning and a clear vision for the long term. More ownership for the entire food system “It is important to realise that the system as a whole is interconnected: from production to processing to consumption,” says Van Zanten. “Currently, no one feels ownership for the entire food system. A decision about one production system or chain within the food system can have consequences for the rest system. Our model is the first model to look into the circularity of the entire food system in detail. It offers opportunities to redesign the European food system in a way that respects the health of both humans and the planet.”In collaboration with Wander-WUR, a dashboard has been developed to present the results of the article: PT3D (cifos.site). 12 June: Symposium ‘The Environmental impact of Food Systems’ Are we eating at the expense of the rest of nature? Is it possible over the short term to have a food system in which everyone has healthy food to eat that has been produced with respect for animals, plants, the soil and humankind? National and international scientists will engage with the audience on these and other issues during the symposium ‘The Environmental Impact of Food Systems’. The symposium is being held at Wageningen University & Research (WUR) on 12 June.More information and registration: https://www.wur.nl/en/activity/symposium-is-our-food-more-important-than-nature-.htm Publication detailsH. H. E. van Zanten, W. Simon, B. van Selm, J. Wacker, R. Hijbeek, M. K. van Ittersum (all from WUR), T. I. Maindl (SDB Science-driven Business Ltd, Cyprus), A. Frehner (FiBL, Switzerland), & M. Herrero (Cornell University, VS). Circularity in Europe strengthens the sustainability of the global food system. Nature Food (April 17).  DOI: 10.1038/s43016-023-00734-9.

[Category: Industry News]

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[l] at 4/6/23 2:58pm
5,207 professionals, 40% more than in 2022, and 200 exhibiting companies from 19 countries attended the third edition of GreenTech Americas. 95% of the exhibitors already booked their stand for 2024. The international protected horticulture event, held on 21 – 23 March at the Querétaro Congress Center, Mexico, offered a range of technological solutions to increase production and value. The next edition of GreenTech Americas will be staged from 12 – 14 March 2024. GreenTech Americas is organized by RAI Amsterdam in partnership with Tarsus Mexico. AttendanceThe event was attended by 200 exhibiting companies from 19 countries; Mexico, Canada, the United States, Colombia, China, Cyprus, Spain, France, India, Sri Lanka, The Netherlands, Latvia, Russia, Turkey, Germany, Belgium, Italy, New Zealand and Greece. ConferenceThe Conference Programme was also well attended by 281 professionals, with more than 20% attendees than in 2022. This success was mainly due to the high level of the (international) speakers who discussed and analysed the opportunities of protected horticulture in the region. They also shared their experience and practices on how to increase crop productivity.  Quotes from the industryClaudia Plasencia, Head of Marketing Invermex, expressed her enthusiasm for her participation. “There are a lot of visitors and investors who come looking for suppliers and new businesses. GreenTech Americas has grown a lot and we are convinced to continue participating to introduce our products to more buyers”, she indicated.Francisco Cabrera, manager of the import department at Excalibur Plastics, highlighted that during this edition the exhibitors established a greater number of business relationships, thanks to the prestige that the event has acquired and to the high influx of visitors. “It was a meeting point to close deals and that more potential customers know about our offer”, he added. A word from the organizationAccording to its organizers, the third edition exceeded all expectations of visitors and exhibitors with the increase of attendees in a single place and exchange of knowledge and solutions to connect technology with the industry. Mariska Dreschler, Director of Horticulture GreenTech Global, explained that on the exhibition floor, a great diversity of high-tech technology solutions were to be spotted, adapted to the climate needs of Mexico and applicable for countries with similar climate conditions. “We are proud that for the third time, the event was a great face-to-face gathering of leading and innovative parties, active and interested in the protected horticulture sector. With an increasing amount of visitors from both Mexico and surrounding countries, GreenTech Americas is here to stay as an regional hub, with its own focus. It is in strong synergy with our worldwide positioned GreenTech Amsterdam show which will be organized from 13-15 June this year”, she indicated. “We are excited about the response we’ve gotten this year. And convinced that protected horticulture is gaining ground in Mexico and in the region. Thanks to the benefits it offers to improve the quantity and quality of the crops, in addition to a more sustainable techniques rather than traditional agriculture, which allows savings of water and energy”, commented José Navarro, General director of Tarsus. Partners of the eventThe event is supported by the Asociación Mexicana de Horticultura Protegida A.C. (AMHPAC); the Centro Universitario CEICKOR; the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands; among other prestigious organizations and institutions, who provided exchange of knowledge, experiences and success stories among industry suppliers from Mexico and other countries. About GreenTech AmericasGreenTech Americas is part of the GreenTech portfolio and focuses on Mexico as well as the rest of the Americas. The goal is to meet the specific needs of growers, breeders and suppliers. GreenTech Americas enables a greater exchange of knowledge, experiences, and success stories of the horticultural industry in this region. The show is organized by RAI Amsterdam and Tarsus México and the fourth edition will be held from 12 – 14 March 2024. Please find more information at www.greentech.nl/americas/. About GreenTech AmsterdamGreenTech Amsterdam will be held from Tuesday 13 – Thursday 15 June 2023. The exhibition is a global meeting place for all horticultural technology professionals with the focus on the early stages of the horticultural chain and the current issues growers face. GreenTech is supported by AVAG, the industry association for the greenhouse technology sector in the Netherlands. More information via www.greentech.nl or follow Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram or YouTube.

[Category: Industry News, Business, Conference, Greenhouse, Greenhouse Technology, Indoor Ag Technology, Technology, Vertical Farming]

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[l] at 4/3/23 7:20am
Roberto Lopez, an OptimIA project researcher and Michigan State University horticulture professor, is studying how environmental parameters can impact plant growth, quality, yield and morphology of controlled environment crops. Photo courtesy of Roberto Lopez, Mich. St. Univ. OptimIA researchers are studying how the environment can be manipulated to improve crop quality, increase yields and change the plant morphology of leafy greens. You know how important maintaining the proper environment plays in the production of controlled environment crops. Is it possible to change the environmental parameters to improve crop quality and yield? Researchers with the OptimIA project are looking at how the environmental parameters such as light, temperature, relative humidity and carbon dioxide concentration can impact plant growth, quality, yield and morphology of leafy greens. “There is a not a lot of production information available for most leafy greens other than lettuce,” said OptimIA researcher and Michigan State University horticulture professor Roberto Lopez. “Lettuce is a significant crop for the controlled environment industry. Kale and arugula are up-and-coming crops that are being sold more as stand-alone, prepackaged leafy greens. Microgreens are also a relatively new crop and not much research has been done on them beyond the influence of light quality and intensity. “Kale and arugula are similar to lettuce, they don’t grow too large and have a similar crop production time to lettuce. Microgreens are a short-term crop that only take a few weeks at most.” Michigan State graduate student Devin Brewer is studying how the color of lettuce and microgreens can be enhanced by altering the light quality and reducing the air temperature. Photo courtesy of Devin Brewer, Mich. St. Univ. Improving crop quality Lopez and graduate student Devin Brewer are particularly interested in looking at leaf color in regards to improving crop visual quality and potentially nutrition. “Consumers, when it comes to red leaf lettuce, prefer dark red leaves because they like the color and texture,” Lopez said. “One of our goals with OptimIA is to really push leafy greens crops to produce them as quickly and profitably as possible. By pushing the plants there is a lot of biomass produced quickly. However, one of the down sides is that the foliage can lack the desired color, especially red leaf lettuce and brassica microgreens.” Brewer is studying how the color of lettuce and microgreens can be enhanced by altering the light quality and reducing the air temperature. He is looking at different light qualities, primarily a combination of red and blue light or blue light alone. He is also looking at reducing the temperature a few days prior to the crop being harvested. “Devin found that reducing the temperature in combination with a light ratio (percent) of 75 blue:25 red light produced intense leaf coloration,” Lopez said. “However, in the case of indoor farms, it is much easier to heat than to cool. Most of these farms use LED lights. Even though there is a misconception that LEDs don’t generate heat, the fixtures can produce quite bit of heat.” Depending on the time of year, lowering the air temperature would be more feasible for greenhouse lettuce production. During cooler times of the year, there is not going to be the heat load in greenhouses that could occur in indoor farms. Because lowering the temperature could potentially be a challenge for indoor farms, Lopez said he is looking at other ways of reducing the temperature including lowering the irrigation water temperature. Another benefit of the end-of-production lighting or cooling is the impact it has on some plant nutrients, vitamins and carotenoids. “Not only is the color being affected, but in some instances the parameters related to nutrition are increasing,” Lopez said. “We are looking at this with lettuce and this summer will be studying the impact light and temperature can have on microgreens. We are quantifying the changes in the amounts of anthocyanins. We will not be measuring these changes with kale or arugula.” The red butterhead lettuce variety ‘Barlach RZ’ was placed under the end-of-production cool temperature treatments the final eight days before harvest. From left to right: 20℃ (68℉) 14℃ (57.2℉) and 8℃ (46.4℉). Photo courtesy of Devin Brewer, Mich. St. Univ. Two characteristics of leafy greens Lopez won’t be studying in the short-term are texture and taste. “Leaf texture is an important factor to consider when studying the impact of light and temperature,” he said. “When lettuce is grown warm, it tends to be softer, not as crisp as lettuce that is grown at cooler temperatures. “Unfortunately, with the OptimIA project we don’t have the time to determine if environmental parameters can affect taste. In a separate USDA Specialty Crop Research Initiative project called CEA HERB focused on culinary herbs, we will have a consumer taste panel looking at flavor profiles as well as studying the impact on nutrients within the plants.” Increasing crop yields Another aspect of Lopez’s research is focused on how temperature impacts the yields of lettuce, kale, arugula and microgreens. “These four crops are being grown under various temperatures so that we can estimate what the base, the optimum and maximum temperature are for each crop,” he said. “This will enable us to determine the temperatures that are going to produce the maximum yields as well as the best quality.” Lopez said growers may not always want to grow a crop at the optimum temperature because the light intensity might have to increase to a level that the crops won’t be profitable to produce. “Lettuce, kale and arugula have been grown as field crops,” he said. “Studies to determine the base, optimum and maximum temperatures have not been consistent. Lettuce for example, has a much higher base temperature as well as optimum temperature than most growers thought. Considered to be a cooler season crop, lettuce can tolerate temperatures into the upper 70s. Yields can be pushed by growing them warm. Obviously, there is a point where too much heat is going to lead to lower quality crops and potentially bolting.” Changing plant shape to meet market demand Lopez said changing the shape of the plants will be important depending on how a crop is marketed. “In the case of lettuce, if a head is too tall it may not fit into the clamshell packaging it is typically sold in,” he said. “We are only focusing on lettuce in regards to changing morphology. The responses that we see in lettuce to environmental parameters should be similar in the other crops we are studying. We estimate similar responses with arugula and kale. “We are looking at various ways to produce more compact leaves or elongated leaves with the use or far-red or blue light. This will allow growers to manipulate the plants based on consumer demand.” Looking ahead Lopez said what has been learned with the crops from the OptimIA project will help in the studies that will be done with culinary herbs. “Culinary herbs are much more diverse than the crops we are studying in the OptimIA project,” he said. “The environmental requirements for herbs vary considerably. Some do very well under high temperatures. Others require cooler temperatures. Photoperiod can induce some into flower. What we have learned from the OptimIA project will give us some good starting points so that we aren’t guessing as to where we need to begin with the various herbs we plan to study.” For more: Roberto Lopez, Michigan State University, Department of Horticulture; rglopez@msu.edu; https://www.canr.msu.edu/people/dr_roberto_lopez?profileDisplayContent=contactInfo. Devin Brewer, Michigan State University, Department of Horticulture, brewerd9@msu.edu. 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, Indoor Ag Technology, Technology, Vertical Farming]

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[l] at 3/31/23 9:54am
Indoor Ag-Con, Controlled Environment Agriculture Innovation Center To Co-Host 2nd Annual Edition September 19-20, 2023 in Danville, VA DANVILLE, VA–  The Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) Summit East is proud to announce its return on September 19-20, 2023 at the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR) in Danville, VA. Focused on convening the CEA industry and academia, the annual event is co-hosted by Indoor Ag-Con, the premier global gathering of the vertical farming/CEA sector, and the Virginia Tech-IALR CEA Innovation Center, a joint project between IALR and Virginia Tech’s School of Plant and Environmental Sciences and the Virginia Seafood Agricultural Research and Extension Center.   Following the success of its debut edition in October 2022, which brought together more than 200 attendees from 28 states, the CEA Summit East will continue to foster connections and collaboration among growers, educators, scientists, extension specialists, suppliers, engineers, tech specialists, architect/developers, and other industry members. “The enthusiasm and engagement we saw at our inaugural event were truly inspiring and were thrilled to continue our partnership with the CEA Innovation Center to bring the CEA Summit East back in 2023, said Brian Sullivan, CEO, Indoor Ag-Con. Both organizations see tremendous value in growing an event like this that brings business and academia audiences together at an incredible research facility setting that really fosters an environment for sharing ideas and new business opportunities.” The two-day event will feature keynotes, panels and breakout conference sessions, as well as tabletop exhibits from industry-leading companies and research facility tours. Attendees can expect to learn about the latest advances in CEA and explore opportunities for collaboration and growth.  “We are excited to build on the momentum of our first event and continue to bring together leaders in the CEA industry,” said Dr. Scott Lowman, Co-Director of the Controlled Environment Agriculture Innovation Center and Vice President of Applied Research at IALR.  “We look forward to showcasing the innovative research and education programs we are developing to support the growth of the CEA industry.” For more information and to register to attend,exhibit and to learn more about speaking opportunities for the CEA Summit East 2023, please visit the event website at www.ceasummit.com ABOUT INDOOR AG-CONFounded in 2013, Indoor Ag-Con has emerged as the largest trade event for vertical farming | controlled environment agriculture, the practice of growing crops in indoor systems, using hydroponic, aquaponic and aeroponic techniques. Its events are crop-agnostic and touch all sectors of the business, covering produce, legal cannabis |hemp, alternate protein and non-food crops. More information –www.indoor.ag | 404.991.5186 ABOUT THE SCHOOL OF PLANT AND ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES AT VIRGINIA TECHThe School of Plant and Environmental Sciences at Virginia Tech trains the next generation of professionals in the fields of plant breeding and genetics, agronomic and horticultural crop production, plant protection, soil and water systems management, agricultural technologies, environmental restoration and agro-environmental stewardship.  It conducts research to improve agricultural productivity, reduce negative impacts on the environment and improve soil and water health.  Through extension programs, it provides science-based information to stakeholders to help them feed the world while protecting the environment.  More information —www.spes.vt.edu ABOUT THE VIRGINIA SEAFOOD AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH AND EXTENSION CENTER AT VIRGINIA TECHThe Virginia Seafood Agricultural Research and Extension Center at Virginia Tech works to support the future of the historic seafood industry — in Virginia and beyond. Its extension specialists work with industry and research partners to identify and respond to emerging needs and provide technical guidance to stakeholders in every level of the seafood supply chain. Through technical assistance, training, process validation, value-added product development, and more, it helps stakeholders ensure product quality, safety, and viability. More information  www.arec.vaes.vt.edu ABOUT IALRThe Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR) serves as a regional catalyst for economic transformation. Core focus areas include research that provides a clear path to commercialization, advanced learning opportunities where education meets experience, training and rapid-launch space for advanced manufacturers, and economic development through conferencing and a partnership with the Southern Virginia Regional Alliance. It is located in scenic and historic Danville-Pittsylvania County on the VA/NC state line, within a short drive of Roanoke, Greensboro and Raleigh.  More information – www.ialr.org

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

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[l] at 3/29/23 7:00am
Indoor AgTech is coming to New York Times Square in 2023, bringing together the world’s leading  growers, retailers, tech providers, seed companies and investors on June 29-30 to meet, expand  networks and produce fruitful partnerships.  After a pivotal year for the CEA sector, the summit will explore what’s needed to ensure the indoor  farming industry can continue innovating and growing into a crucial part of the global agri-food supply  chain.   From multi-acre scale facility design to seed optimization for vertical growing, and from multi-million dollar funding rounds to the fine margins of running profitable farms, an international speaking faculty  will discuss the critical success factors for CEA in today’s economic environment.  Delegates can take advantage of the dedicated meeting platform to meet future investors and  business partners in the 1-1 networking room or sit down with a thought-leader at a roundtable break out to dig deeper into the technologies and business models that are shaping the industry in 2023.  With an exhibition showcasing growers, seed companies, climate controls and automated growing  equipment, as well as a menu featuring fantastic fresh produce from indoor farms, this is a summit  focused on high-profile networking and deal-making.  Key Themes:   Finding New Sources of Funding in a Changing Economic Landscape   Alleviating the Impact of the Energy Crisis through Efficiencies and Alternatives Accelerating Automation to Improve Crop Care and Reduce Operational Costs Balancing Biology and Technology for Crop Growth and Profitability  Unlocking the Potential of Plant Genetics to Sow the Seeds of Growth   Growing Margins Through New Product Innovation from Crop to Shelf Exploring the Global Potential of Indoor Farming and the Next Regional Hotspots Promoting CEA as a Critical Piece of the Food Security Puzzle  Creating Industry Standards to Build Confidence and Communicate the Benefits of CEA  Registration: www.indooragtechnyc.com/register  One Summit Pass – Indoor AgTech (including virtual access):   In-Person: Super Early Bird Price: $1695 (ends April 6) Full Price: $2295  Virtual Access Only: Super Early Bird Price: $295 (ends April 6) Full Price: $595 Two Summit Pass – Indoor AgTech and Future Food-Tech Alternative Proteins (including virtual  access):  In-Person: Super Early Bird Price: $2695 (ends April 6) Full Price: $3295  Virtual Access Only: Super Early Bird Price: $495 (ends April 6) Full Price: $895

[Category: Events, Industry News, Business, Conference, Greenhouse, Indoor Ag Technology, Technology, Vertical Farming]

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[l] at 3/21/23 5:26am
Survey to provide insight on emerging Controlled Environment Agriculture trends now live SEATTLE, WA March 20, 2023 – IUNU today released their fourth State of CEA Survey. This survey will provide insights on emerging trends and challenges in the Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) industry. IUNU has been releasing the leading industry report on CEA since 2016. The report was formerly titled State of Indoor Farming and managed by Artemis, which was acquired by IUNU in 2021. This year, the company will expand the report to focus on the different leading segments of the Controlled Environment Agriculture industry: greenhouse fruit and vegetable, and greenhouse ornamental production. IUNU is researching and releasing the 2023 State of CEA report in partnership with the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR). Their VINE agrifood technology innovation program, Global Controlled Environment Agriculture Consortium (GCEAC), and UC Davis-led AI Institute for Next Generation Food Systems (AIFS) will also collaborate on the report. Gabe Youtsey, Chief Innovation Officer at UC ANR and co-founder of The VINE said “an industry-led, market-driven approach to guiding innovation priorities and investments is critical as we consider the future of indoor farming. I’m thrilled to partner with IUNU on the development of this State of CEA report with our UC innovation teams from The VINE, GCEAC, and AIFS to create a robust state of CEA report that will guide our CEA open innovation priorities this year.” Since the survey launched in 2016, more than 500 growers have participated in the survey and more than 2 million people have downloaded the report. The industry reports have become one of the most widely circulated and respected sources of industry data. Allison Kopf, Chief Growth Officer of IUNU said, this report is a trusted resource for the industry and we’re thrilled to bring it back in an expanded capacity. Over the past year, we’ve seen a swell of news around our industry. This report will go deeper into those stories and share data on how companies are performing, big market opportunities, and the real challenges growers are facing.” You can download past reports here. Recently, IUNU also released a comprehensive report on the Brown Rugose Virus impacting tomato growers worldwide which you can access here. Greenhouse operators can participate in the 2023 State of CEA survey here. The survey takes approximately 25 minutes to complete. All organizations in CEA (greenhouse, high tunnel, or indoor) are invited to participate. All data collected is confidential and shared only via anonymous trends. No identifying information is ever shared. The survey will remain open for a few weeks and IUNU expects to launch the 2023 State of CEA report immediately following. Take the survey now. About IUNU Founded in 2013 and headquartered in Seattle, IUNU aims to close the loop in greenhouse autonomy and is focused on being the worlds leading controlled environment specialist. IUNU’s flagship platform, LUNA, combines software with a variety of high-definition cameras — both fixed and mobile — and environmental sensors to keep track of the minutiae of plant growth and health in indoor ag settings. LUNA’s goal is to turn commercial greenhouses into precise, predictable, demand-based manufacturers that optimize yield, labor, and product quality. www.IUNU.com About The VINE by UC ANR The VINE is California’s agriculture, food and biotech innovation network powered by the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR). We believe that the state’s continued prosperity rests on creation of more productive, sustainable, and equitable food systems. Every day, we harness the power of open innovation to connect entrepreneurs to a broad network of public and private sector resources to enable them to grow and scale globally, build collaborations that catalyze the development of climate-smart technology-based solutions to solve industry challenges, and grow regional capacity to support global innovation as an economic opportunity—because our future, and the nation’s, depends on it. The Global Controlled Environment Agriculture Consortium (GCEAC) – an initiative of The VINE seeks to build a worldwide ecosystem to bring technology to market that addresses global challenges in food, health, and sustainability. GCEAC is an open innovation partnership between industry, university and government sectors in the United States and The Netherlands, led from California.

[Category: Industry News, Research, Business, Education, Greenhouse, Indoor Ag Technology, LED Grow Lights, Survey, Technology, Vertical Farming]

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[l] at 3/13/23 4:41pm
March 15 webinar will provide an overview of the application process MEDFORD, MA – March 13, 2023 – The DesignLights Consortium (DLC) will begin accepting applications on March 31 from horticultural lighting manufacturers interested in qualifying their products under the DLC’s Horticultural Lighting Technical Requirements Version 3.0. Finalized in December 2022, the V3.0 requirements increase the efficacy and establish additional minimum performance baselines for LED luminaires, lamps, and controls used by the controlled environment agriculture (CEA) industry. V3.0 also introduces a surveillance testing policy intended to protect the integrity and value of the DLC’s Horticultural Qualified Products List (QPL) for all stakeholders. With the North American CEA industry projected to grow to $8 billion by 2026 and horticultural lighting one of the fastest growing segments of the electric load for many utilities, the DLC’s Horticultural Technical Requirements promote energy efficient technology in CEA facilities, guiding the industry toward sustainable growth in concert with decarbonization efforts. “The DLC is pleased to begin taking applications for the newest version of our horticultural QPL, supporting effective, energy efficient horticultural lighting in the fast-growing CEA industry,” DLC Executive Director and CEO Christina Halfpenny said. “There has been a 17.5 percent increase in the efficacy of listed products since we introduced the DLC’s horticultural lighting program in 2018. We are proud to collaborate with cultivators and lighting manufacturers to continually advance sustainability in CEA.” Provisions of the Horticultural Lighting Technical Requirements V3.0 include: Increasing (for the first time since the Horticultural Lighting Program launched) the Photosynthetic Photon Efficacy (PPE) threshold of QPL products – a 21 percent increase over the previous PPE threshold, setting a baseline for LED-based horticultural lighting that is 35 percent above the most efficacious non-LED option (1,000-watt double-ended high pressure sodium luminaire); Introducing requirements for reporting product application information, including product dimensions and representative images to be published on the Hort QPL, giving efficiency programs and QPL users greater insight into a product’s intended use; Introducing product-level controllability requirements – including dimming capability for certain AC-powered and all DC-powered luminaires and replacement lamps, and reporting of additional controllability details to enable more functionality and energy savings, promote interoperability and lay the groundwork for future demand-response efforts; Introducing a surveillance testing policy whereby the DLC will actively monitor the validity of data and other information it receives. The updated policy provides indoor commercial growers with significant product variety and increased savings opportunities. A searchable, filterable online resource that offers users apples-to-apples comparisons of almost 1,200 horticultural LEDs, the Horticultural QPL has grown more than 16-fold in the past two years. More than 50 North American energy efficiency programs require CEA operators to reference the DLC QPL to qualify for energy efficiency incentives (representing 91 percent of the DLC’s membership), and others have incorporated the DLC technical requirements into their programs. Two states with cannabis-specific energy efficiency regulations (Massachusetts and Illinois) offer a compliance pathway via the DLC’s Horticultural QPL. The DLC will provide an overview on the Hort V3.0 product application process during a webinar on March 15 at 1 p.m. EDT. About the DesignLights Consortium: The DLC is a non-profit organization improving energy efficiency, lighting quality, and the human experience in the built environment. We collaborate with utilities, energy efficiency programs, manufacturers, lighting designers, building owners, and government entities to create rigorous criteria for lighting performance that keeps up with the pace of technology. Together, we’re creating solutions for a better future with better lighting.

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

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[l] at 3/9/23 12:18pm
Amsterdam – 9 March 2023. During the GreenTech Americas Conference programme, leading (inter)national experts focus on optimizing crops in a controlled environment. At GreenTech Americas are the latest technologies and innovations of the industry in the region of Americas. From Tuesday, March 21 through Thursday, March 23, 200 companies and 2,400 professionals will be present on the show floor in Querétaro Congress Center (QCC), Mexico. Conference Programme highlights Tuesday 21 March 12:00 – 13:00: ‘Alternative crops and opportunities in the controlled environment agriculture sector’ by Sonny Moerenhout (Cultivators), María Pérez Vázquez (OLEOFLOR), Erick Ponce (ICAN LATAM), Juan Gabriel Succar (Verde Compacto) and moderated by Mariana Larrea (Santuario Uh May). 15:30 – 16:30: ‘It is not about high-tech, its about the right-tech: The experience of Agropark Querétaro and Agropark Honduras’ by Saul Baez (Agropark Greenhouse Association), Ricardo Lardizabal (AgroAlpha, Honduras) and moderated by Homero Ontiveros (AgTech América). Wednesday 22 March 10:00 – 11:00: ‘Digital agriculture: How data collection and artificial intelligence are helping growers to increase productivity’ by Celene Solis (WayBeyond), Martin Helmich (Hoogendoorn Growth Management) and moderated by Pharis Rico (HortiConnect NL). 11:00 – 12:00: ‘Human resources: Strategies for the selection, training and retention of employees’ by Carlos Arteaga (Rancho Medio Kilo) and moderated by Georgius R. Gotsis (Eleven Rivers Grower). 12:30 – 13:30: Keynote Silke Hemming (Wageningen University & Research) will talk about: ‘The road to autonomous greenhouses: 1: The greenhouse industry plays an important role in the supply of fresh produce. However operators have to make many decisions to achieve high yields with good product quality and at the right time. 2: Also managing crop production using all resources (water, energy, labour) efficiently is becoming increasingly important. The right greenhouse equipment, sensor technology and artificial intelligence (AI) achieve advances that make growers work easier. 15:00 – 16:00: ‘How private investment is changing the perception of the controlled environment agriculture industry and investment opportunities’ by Claudio García Salgó (AGreenVesting), Andrés Vázquez Lamont (Farm Capital), Juan Carlos Alderete Macal (Grupo Financiero Banorte) and moderated by Pablo Ricaud (Rising Farms). 16:00 – 17:00: ‘State of the industry: What are the threats and opportunities in the regional and global controlled environment agriculture industry’ by Georgius R. Gotsis (Eleven Rivers Grower), Guillermo Jiménez (AMHPAC), Tyrone Orozco (CJT Traders) and moderated by Oscar Woltman (MagicSun Farms). Check out the full conference programme at https://www.greentech.nl/americas/conference-programme. Partners of the eventThe event is supported by the Asociación Mexicana de Horticultura Protegida A.C. (AMHPAC); the Centro Universitario CEICKOR; the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands; among other prestigious organizations and institutions, which will provide a greater exchange of knowledge, experiences and success stories among industry suppliers from Mexico and other countries. About GreenTech AmericasGreenTech Americas is part of the GreenTech portfolio and focuses on Mexico as well as the rest of the Americas. The goal is to meet the specific needs of growers, breeders and suppliers. GreenTech Americas enables a greater exchange of knowledge, experiences, and success stories of the horticultural industry in this region. The show is organized by RAI Amsterdam and Tarsus México. More information at www.greentech.nl/americas/. About GreenTech AmsterdamGreenTech Amsterdam will be held from Tuesday 13 – Thursday 15 June 2023. The exhibition is a global meeting place for all horticultural technology professionals with the focus on the early stages of the horticultural chain and the current issues growers face. GreenTech is supported by AVAG, the industry association for the greenhouse technology sector in the Netherlands. More information via www.greentech.nl or follow Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram or YouTube.

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

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[l] at 3/6/23 12:58pm
 62% Attendance Increase For Las Vegas February 27-28, 2023 Event That Drew CEA Industry Members from 48 US States, 29 Countries Indoor Ag-Con marked its 10th Anniversary Edition with record increases in attendee and exhibitor participation for its February 27-28, 2023 run at Caesars Forum Las Vegas. The exhibitor booth roster doubled with a sold-out show floor featuring 134 companies in 174 booths vs 70 companies in 80 booths for 2022.  Attendance saw a 62% increase over 2022 with 1453 attendees from 48 US states, the District of Columbia and US territories, as well as 29 other countries. Attendees included C-level execs and other decision-makers involved with every sector of controlled environment agriculture growers, investors, tech providers, start-ups, academia, government, food service retail, suppliers and more.For the second year, Indoor Ag-Con once again co-located with the National Grocers Association (NGA) Show, attracting 200+ attendees from that event to the Indoor Ag-Con expo floor  taking the total attendance number over the 1600 mark. “We are thrilled with the incredible growth Indoor Ag-Con continues to experience year-on-year,” says Brian Sullivan, CEO, Indoor Ag-Con. “This tremendous response from the industry particularly our growing international attendance – positions Indoor Ag-Con as the global event for CEA  and confirms the growing importance and potential of vertical farming and controlled environment agriculture.  As we continue to evolve and adapt to the changing needs of our community, we are committed to delivering a high-quality event that provides unparalleled education, networking, and business growth opportunities for our attendees and exhibitors.  We look forward to an even brighter future for Indoor Ag-Con and the entire indoor agriculture industry” Among the 10th Anniversary Edition highlights: CEO Keynote Sessions Attendees had the chance to hear different perspectives from key executives from both the investment and farm operation sectors.  Arama Kukutai, CEO, Plenty kicked off day one with the opening morning keynote on February 27, 2023.  During the second part of his address, he welcomed surprise guest, Mark Hagan, Chief Investment Officer, Realty Income, who joined him on stage for a fireside chat sharing more about the recently announced strategic  real estate alliance to support the development of Plentys indoor vertical farms. Later that day Vonnie Estes, Vice President of Technology for the International Fresh Produce Association (IFPA) moderated the keynote panel, “The Ever-Changing Business Model Of Controlled Environment Agriculture Farming,” with Steve Platt, CEO, BrightFarms; Matt Ryan, CEO, Soli Organic; and Dave Vosburg, CIO, Local Bounti. On day two, February 28, 2023,  Dave Chen, CEO, Equilibrium, took the stage to share his thoughts on  “The State of CEA and the Road Ahead.” Educational Tracks & Expo Floor Theater Panel Discussions The 2023 edition featured 3 educational tracks – Grower, Trends & Innovation and Funding & Guidance– that brought industry experts together covering a  wide range of topics from lighting solutions outside of standard wavelengths, to lessons learned from business failures, food security, strawberry production and workforce development and more.  In addition, the Expo Floor Theater featured a Hardball session on the state of vertical farming; and fireside chats with leaders from Unfold and GoodLeaf and a session on installation success.  In addition, the 2023 edition welcomed a  new debate format with sessions like greenhouse v. vertical farming, pre-built v. custom-built controlled environments and container v vertical farming.  Sold Out Expo Floor Doubling in size over 2023, this year’s expo floor was home to some of the biggest names in CEA as well as up-and-coming suppliers.  From lighting and grow systems to substrates and irrigation, growers were able to see the newest innovations all under one roof. Indoor Ag-Con |Philips VIP Welcome Party Back by popular demand, Philips Horticulture LED Solutions teamed up once again with Indoor Ag-Con to tee-up the 2023 edition with a VIP Welcome Par-tee on Sunday evening, February 26 at Topgolf Las Vegas.  Indoor Ag-Con conference speakers and other industry VIPs came together for an incredible evening of golf, networking, cocktails, food, music and fun – all compliments of Philips Horticulture LED Solutions. Networking OpportunitiesDaily lunches and an afternoon cocktail reception on the expo floor expanded the show’s networking opportunities. Looking ahead, Indoor Ag-Con Las Vegas will return to Caesars Forum March 11-12, 2024 and will once again co-locate with The National Grocers Association Show. About Indoor Ag-Con Founded in 2013, Indoor Ag-Con has emerged as the largest trade show and conference for vertical farming | controlled environment agriculture in the United States. Its events are crop-agnostic and touch all sectors of the business, covering produce, legal cannabis | hemp, alternate protein and non-food crops. More information  www.indoor.ag

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

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[l] at 3/6/23 7:56am
Lettuce being grown as baby greens at Purdue University are harvested 15 days after planting seeds. Seeds are sown close together to minimize loss of photons between plants. Photo courtesy of Cary Mitchell, Purdue Univ. Researchers with the OptimIA project are working to solve the environmental control issues facing indoor farm growers. While some might think that the environmental challenges facing indoor farm growers should be relatively minor and easy to overcome in a closed environment, they’d be wrong. “Some of the challenges and bottlenecks facing indoor farms include insufficient airflow leading to a non-uniform environment, lighting that is wasteful and how light is delivered into the canopy,” said Murat Kacira, director of the Controlled Environment Agriculture Center (CEAC) at the University of Arizona and a member of the OptimIA project research team. “In addition to these challenges, there are those related to the humidity and water management in the aerial environment as well as identifying the best light quality, light intensity and light recipes for indoor farm crops.” Prior to the start of the OptimIA project in 2019, surveys were conducted of stakeholders in the indoor farm industry, including growers, to determine what are the areas of greatest need for research. “An indoor farm is a closed box,” Kacira said. “You know what goes in and what comes out, but it demands the resources to control that environment, which include controlling the light, temperature, humidity, carbon dioxide and all other processes to grow the crop to meet production expectations.   “An indoor farm offers tighter control than in a greenhouse environment. There is not the same effect from the outdoor dynamics, for example the light intensity, temperature and water recirculation from the air. Being able to harvest the water from the air is easier in an indoor farm system compared to a greenhouse system. There is more controllability when it comes to an indoor farm compared to a greenhouse, of course with an additional expense for resource use to achieve such control.” Focused on environmental control Kacira and his team of graduate students KC Shasteen and Christopher Kaufmann at the University of Arizona are significant contributors on the environmental control aspects of the OptimIA project. “We are also considering light because light brings the energy to the plants and then the energy has to be released for cooling and for proper transpiration and nutrient deployment from the roots,” Kacira said. Kacira’s team conducted computer simulations to help improve airflow and to identify co-optimization of environmental variables for energy savings. Building upon computer simulation research outcomes, Kaufmann is conducting experiments in CEAC’s vertical farm facility to evaluate vertical and horizontal airflow system designs to mitigate tipburn on lettuce crops. Shasteen and Kacira worked on modeling with the co-optimization of variables, including light, temperature, relative humidity and carbon dioxide level. “We have been able to quantify yield outcomes and to determine what the energy use would be for any of those environmental control strategies,” Kacira said. “These models and the outcomes and information that we have generated from this research are used by our OptimIA colleagues on the economics team. They are developing economic models for a variety of scenarios of profitability and economics for indoor farm applications and indoor farm systems. “We are focused primarily on airflow system design and optimization, humidity management and co-optimization of environmental variables mainly for energy savings. Our collaborations also included Nadia Sabeh at Dr. Greenhouse on the humidity management side of the environmental control aspect.” University of Arizona researchers are conducting modeling studies with the co-optimization of variables, including light, temperature, relative humidity and carbon dioxide level. They have been able to quantify yield outcomes and to determine the energy use for different environmental control strategies. Photo courtesy of Murat Kacira, Univ. of Ariz. Real-world applications Some of the research outcomes from the University of Arizona team related to airflow systems designs, concepts and recommendations have been incorporated into actual growing settings in commercial operations. “We are able to incorporate some of our research results into commercial site trials through our collaborations,” Kacira said. “We have over 20 industry collaborators as part of the OptimIA project. Some of the collaborators showed interest in implementing some of the airflow system designs, environment control, and co-optimization of these variables into their operations. We will also have an opportunity before the OptimIA project ends to implement them directly and evaluate some of the research outcomes in commercial settings.” Saving on energy costs Sole-source lighting is the largest energy cost of indoor farms. Indoor farm energy costs account for at least 30 percent of the total operational costs. Other energy costs are related to operating fans, dehumidification and ventilation. “The focus of the OptimIA research at Purdue University is to identify and try to reduce the energy costs related to growing indoor crops,” said Cary Mitchell, horticulture professor at Purdue University. “If an indoor farm grower is using sole-source lighting that is going to be the biggest energy cost. These indoor farms spend hundreds of thousands of dollars per year on electricity and it’s mostly for lighting.” Mitchell has long been interested in energy as one of the profit-determining and profit-limiting parameters in indoor farming. “All of the OptimIA researchers are interested in saving resources for growing leafy greens and culinary herbs indoors,” he said. “That is the common thread among all of us. Purdue researchers are focused on energy savings. “ Avoid wasting light Mitchell and PhD graduate student Fatemeh Sheibani are working on close-canopy LED lighting. This lighting is similar to intra-canopy lighting that is used on some greenhouse crops including high wire tomatoes and fresh cut roses. “One of our findings is if the separation distance is reduced between the LED light fixtures and the crop below without dimming the LEDs, the productivity of the plants goes up,” he said. LEDs are a point source of light with much of the light radiating like a star in all directions. “When LED fixtures are mounted overhead in an indoor farm much of the light goes to the side obliquely,” Mitchell said. “Not all of the light is going down towards the plants. There is a significant amount of photons wasted falling outside of the cropping area. There’s not much that can be done about it other than to move the lights closer to the plants.”  Because LEDs are cool, unlike high intensity discharge (HID) lamps, the separation distance between LED fixtures and the plants can be decreased without burning the plants. “The separation distance can be reduced so that most of the obliquely emitted photons actually are captured by the crop surface instead of going off the edge of the bench,” Mitchell said. “Regardless of whether growers run LED fixtures along the bench or across the bench, they don’t want gradients of crop growth. Growers want just as much growth on the edges as in the middle of the bench. This can cause growers to mount lights not only in the middle of the bench, but also out towards the edges. The further toward the edges the fixtures are mounted, the more photons are lost.” Researchers at Purdue University are studying the impact of growing lettuce at different distances between LED fixtures and lettuce plants. Trials have shown that energy utilization efficiency increases linearly as the lights are placed closer to the plants. Photo courtesy of Cary Mitchell, Purdue Univ. Putting more light on the plants Sheibani is studying two scenarios of close-canopy lighting. One scenario is as the LED lights are placed closer to the plants, the light is dimmed. Even though the light is dimmed, there is the same intensity of light at the plant surface because more laterally emitted photons are captured, but less electricity is used. In a second scenario, Sheibani placed the LED lights closer to the plants, but did not dim them. “In this second scenario, placing the fixtures closer to the plants once again reduced the amount of photon loss,” Mitchell said. “In this case, for the same power and energy usage the plant yields increased because the effective light intensity increased. The plants grew faster and bigger. Each increment of closer spacing results in a higher energy utilization efficiency.” In indoor vertical farms the traditional separation distance between the bottom of the LED fixtures and the top of the crop is 40-50 centimeters. “We have tested separation distances between the fixtures and plants of 45, 35, 25 and 15 centimeters,” Mitchell said. “We found that energy utilization efficiency increases linearly as the lights are placed closer to the plants. This should be relatively easy to implement in most indoor farms, but may require some design modifications from equipment suppliers.” Mitchell explained the reason the two scenarios were studied is because some indoor farms are equipped with non-dimmable LED lights. “In the case of non-dimmable LED fixtures, when the lights are brought closer to the plants, the energy draw by the lights is the same, but the yield goes up, which means the plants grow faster,” he said. “This means the plants can reach the same biomass and be harvested earlier or the harvest date can remain the same and more biomass can be produced. This gives growers the option to use close-canopy lighting for what works best for their production needs. Mitchell points out that not every LED fixture commercially available works well in close-canopy lighting applications. “There are some LED lights where the distribution of colors is not uniform, where there are clusters of blue light,” he said. “This is not a big deal with a 45-centimeter separation distance between the lights and the plants because with the amount of beam spread there is enough distance for the other colors to overlap the blue light. But when the lights are placed within 25 to 15 centimeters of the plant surface, there are clusters of blue light. Blue light inhibits leaf expansion and promotes leaf coloration. The result can be very strange looking crop stands if close-canopy lighting is done with LEDs with uneven light distribution. Fortunately for growers, most of the commercial LED arrays available today for horticultural lighting are quite uniform.” For more: Murat Kacira, University of Arizona, Controlled Environment Agriculture Center; mkacira@arizona.edu; http://ceac.arizona.edu/. Cary Mitchell, Purdue University, Horticulture & Landscape Architecture; cmitchel@purdue.edu; https://ag.purdue.edu/department/hla/directory.html#/cmitchel. This article is property of Urban Ag News and was written by David Kuack, a freelance technical writer in Fort Worth, Texas.

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

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[l] at 3/1/23 8:10am
Low-pH hydroponic nutrient formula for growing leafy greens for better root-rot disease managementby Dr. Chieri Kubota (Ohio State University) This presentation ’Growing leafy greens with a low-pH hydroponic solution for root-rot disease management was given by Chieri Kubota (Ohio State University) during our 49th café forum on February 7th, 2023. Indoor Ag Science Café is organized by the OptimIA project team funded by USDA SCRI grant. Indoor Ag Science Café is an open discussion forum, planned and organized by OptimIA project team. OptimIA (Optimizing Indoor Agriculture) is a project funded by USDA Specialty Crop Research Initiative and supported by many of you receiving this email (thank you!). Café Archive Check out our previous cafés in our Indoor Ag Science Cafe page on the OptimIA website! Indoor Ag Science Cafe is organized by the OptimIA project team funded by USDA SCRI grants program.Previous café recordings are available in the OptimIA project website.Please contact for more info: kubota.10@osu.edu Upcoming Cafes: March 28th (Tuesday),11 AM Eastern  Michigan State OptimIA Research Showcase by Nathan Kelly, Jiyong Shin, and Devin Brewer (Michigan State University) April 25th (Tuesday), 10AM Eastern  “Optimizing Productivity of Plant Made Pharmaceutical under Indoor Controlled Environment’” by Dr. Ryo Matsuda (University of Tokyo, Japan) May 9th (Tuesday), 11AM Eastern – “Climate-smart Credentialing of New CEA Employees by Resource Innovation Institute” by Rob Eddy (Resource Innovation Institute)  June 20th (Tuesday), 11AM Eastern  “Growing Culinary Herbs under Controlled Environment’” by Dr. Christopher Currey (Iowa State University)  Interested in giving a talk to share your thoughts and experiences? Please contact us! Upcoming Courses/Events/News: July 15-18, 2023: Cultivate’23 Annual Conference and Trade Show in Columbus, OH [More information] July 15, 2023: OptimIA at Cultivate’23 “Essentials of Hydroponics Production: A tHRIve Symposium” [More information] July 19, 2023: OHCEAC 2nd Annual Conference “Advancement of Sustainable Controlled Environment Crop Production Sciences and Technologies” in Columbus, OH and online [More information]

[Category: Business, Education, Industry News, Chieri Kubota, Indoor Ag Sci Cafe, Ohio State University]

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[l] at 2/28/23 7:24am
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Purdue University researchers have designed two simple LED lighting strategies to increase yield and reduce energy costs for the vertical farming sector of indoor agriculture. The close-canopy and focused-lighting strategies developed by PhD candidate Fatemeh Sheibani and professor Cary Mitchell, both in the Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture in Purdue’s College of Agriculture, capitalize on LED lighting’s special properties. “One is that they are relatively cool at the emitting surface, in contrast with other lighting choices,” Sheibani said. Thus, the lighting system works closer to plants without scorching them. LEDs are also current driven, unlike many energy-intensive, voltage-driven lighting sources. Their work is part of a project called OptimIA (Optimizing Indoor Agriculture). The project, led by Michigan State University, includes collaborators at Purdue, University of Arizona and Ohio State University. OptimIA is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agricultures Specialty Crop Research Initiative. Fatemeh Sheibani, a PhD candidate in horticulture and landscape architecture, examines lettuce plants in a controlled environment chamber using LED lighting. Sheibani’s research focuses on finding the best strategy for using LEDs in vertical farming that will maximize crop yield and decrease production costs associated with lighting. (Purdue Agricultural Communications photo/Jessica Kerkoff) Download image In vertical agriculture, produce grows using LEDs as the sole lighting source (see YouTube video). “It is the fastest-growing sector of controlled-environment ag,” Mitchell said. “There are new startups going on in urban and para-urban areas all the time, and worldwide.” Fueled by an enthusiastic investment sector, the U.S. is a worldwide industry leader. But labor and energy costs, totaling about 60% of running an indoor farm, threaten the startups’ future. Inflation and rising energy costs have made an already fragile industry even more so. Startup costs are also high, both for land in urban areas and for LED lighting system installment. But indoor farms can easily lower energy use while achieving their usual yield with the close-canopy-lighting strategy. Or, they can increase yield while maintaining their previous energy use. Indoor farmers can dim the voltage of a 1,000-watt, high-pressure sodium lamp with a rheostat, but that merely turns the energy into heat without any savings. “It’s hidden energy,” Mitchell said. But with the LEDs, the current flow can be reduced, and light output is reduced proportionally. Close-canopy lighting works because LEDs shine in all directions, like the sun. At standard plant/light separation distances, significant light streaming at wide angles over the plants misses them entirely. But with reduced separation distances, the plants absorb light that would otherwise go to waste. Michael Gildersleeve, a graduate student in Purdue’s Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, works with lettuce plants grown under close-canopy LED lighting to maximize energy efficiency and crop yield. (Purdue Agricultural Communications photo/Tom Campbell) Download image Today, indoor farms can affordably offer only leafy greens and culinary herbs to consumers. Their quick growth allows for many cropping cycles year-round, unlike produce grown in gardens or fields. And once they reach high-cost urban areas, indoor-produced salad kits and leafy greens might sell for $16 or $17 a pound. “What they sell you in the store in a clamshell or as an individual plant is just a fraction of a pound,” Mitchell said. LEDs are the lighting system of choice for indoor farming because of their relative energy efficiency and long lifetimes, Sheibani said. But improved LEDs also have high photon efficacy, meaning that electric energy is more readily converted to light that plants can use efficiently. Still, inefficient capture of LED light reduces their benefits. Many indoor farmers, for instance, mistakenly believe that they can place their LEDs anywhere. But Sheibani and Mitchell noticed both in vertical farms and in smaller-scale experiments that the light fell not only on the plants but also on the walls and walkways. By reducing the distance between the LED system and the leaf canopy, the researchers were able to reduce such wasted light. “We can improve canopy photon capture efficiency, as we call it, as long as we use LEDs correctly,” Sheibani said. “Canopy photon capture efficiency is the fraction of photons that reach the photosynthesizing machinery of the plants.” Sheibani measures waste via a ratio of plant growth to LED electrical energy consumption. The resulting energy utilization efficiency compares grams of fresh or dry biomass yield per kilowatt hour of energy consumed by the LED lighting system. “The higher the grams of fresh or dry biomass produced per kilowatt hour, the better it is,” she said. And both of Purdue’s tested scenarios found that the closest separation distance had the highest energy utilization efficiency. Sheibani and Mitchell also are testing an energy-saving, focused-lighting approach that relies on a custom-made LED system with selective controls. How do small, individual, widely separated plants fare under slowly spreading beams of light rather than full coverage all the time? “When seedlings emerge after germination, the very small plants are wide apart,” Mitchell said. “It takes two weeks for them to grow together and close a canopy of baby greens. Everything in between is mostly wasted light until then.” Sheibani and Mitchell’s system minimizes that waste. When plants are still small, they use full-coverage LED lighting inefficiently, Sheibani said. But it is possible to save energy in the earlier growth stages with focused lighting. “Then when the plants are at the stage that they can use light efficiently, we can upgrade to provide the optimum amount,” she said. OptimIA offers more information in free video presentations at OptimIAUniversity and the Indoor Ag Science Café. “There’s a lot of excitement about indoor ag and people are jumping into it,” Mitchell said. “But they don’t really have the secret for long-term profitability yet. That’s where academic research such as the OptimIA project comes in to help.” Writer: Steve Koppes Media contact: Maureen Manier, mmanier@purdue.edu Sources: Cary Mitchell, cmitchel@purdue.edu Fatemeh Sheibani, fsheiban@purdue.edu. Agricultural Communications: 765-494-8415; Maureen Manier, Department Head, mmanier@purdue.edu

[Category: Industry News, Education, Greenhouse, Greenhouse Technology, Indoor Ag Technology, LED Grow Lights, Purdue University, Technology, Vertical Farming]

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[l] at 2/24/23 7:00am
By Jenn Frymark and Charu Sharma The Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) industry is growing rapidly, driven by the increasing demand for fresh, sustainable and locally grown produce globally. As the industry continues to evolve and adopt new technologies, it is essential to standardize reporting metrics. This not only will improve the overall industry output by setting benchmarks for best practices and operating procedures but also will drive the adoption of efficient technologies and techniques that can improve performance.  Yield is a key determinant of business revenue and a powerful metric for evaluating the performance of a facility. It can be measured in various ways making it difficult to compare and benchmark aspects such as varieties, technologies, and operational procedures across the industry. Internally, organizations likely have a variety of metrics to measure yield that range from total biomass production to units or cases produced and sold per week. However, to compare yield across various types of technology within the leafy greens CEA industry, it is important to have a standard reporting unit.   Yield expressed as kilograms per square meter per year or pounds per square feet per year is a measurement that allow for an objective view of overall performance that is indifferent to the growing method, technology selection, plant weight, plant density, plant age at the time of harvest, and crop turns throughout the year.  This type of measurement also is useful when comparing CEA to outdoor field production, which is typically reported in terms of tons per acre per year.  The greenhouse tomato industry provides a good model to follow when it comes to yield reporting. Growers in this industry often report yield as kilograms per square meter per year for all areas under glass. This includes the entire growing compartment, including walkways, and does not include non-growing areas of the facility such as packing and storage. The yield is annualized to account for downtime during cleaning, seasonal changes in production, interplanting influences on harvest, and other factors that can influence total annual production. When comparing yields, it is important to consider all the time and area needed to grow the plant.  While most large greenhouse tomato growers do not produce their own transplants, if we were to compare this yield to a grower that does produce transplants, the time and area required for transplant production should be taken into consideration for a fair comparison.   Similarly, for the leafy greens CEA industry, it is important to measure the total annual biomass harvested, excluding roots, over the entire area required during each stage of growth from germination to harvesting mature plants. This provides a more accurate picture of the operation’s overall productivity and can be a valuable data point for evaluating performance. The leafy greens CEA industry is full of innovation and this method of yield benchmarking is valuable across many forms of production – from single layer greenhouses to multi-layer vertical farms. To compare the performance across different growing systems, it is important to estimate the annualized yield over the 2D ground floor area of the growing compartment for the greenhouse or vertical farm. This floor area should include everything in the climate-controlled compartment, including walkways and all areas needed from seed to mature plant. When multiple layers are used in production, there will be a larger total canopy area compared to the floor area. In these cases, it is still recommended to use the 2D ground floor area. There will be variation between some growers as to where certain equipment, such as seeding equipment, is placed and whether it is captured in the climate-controlled area or support/technical buildings.  What’s key is to be aware of those nuances when making comparisons.  The lack of standardization is not intentional. As discussed in this article, standardization in CEA reporting is a complex topic with multiple factors and approaches. In most industries, regulatory requirements and certifications create incentives to standardize reporting. This has gradually started in the CEA industry with the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board explicitly requiring applicants to disclose the area under active production and the total facility area; however, more consistent reporting is required for the standards to become effective. As CEA production becomes more mainstream, building a standardized measurement system will be vital to understand best practices and to evaluate the economic viability of new production methods. This also impacts how we measure the sustainability of different CEA facilities in terms of energy consumption, water consumption, and carbon footprint. With the federal government tightening the climate risk assessment process and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission introducing a proposal to standardize climate-related disclosures, cleaning up reporting and benchmarking practices has never been more important. Jenn Frymark is the Chief Greenhouse Officer for Gotham Greens. Charu Sharma is the Chief of Staff to the Chief Greenhouse Officer and Environmental Sustainability Lead for Gotham Greens. About Gotham Greens Gotham Greens is an indoor farming company and fresh food brand on a mission to transform the way we approach our food system, putting people and the planet at the forefront. Gotham Greens produces and delivers long-lasting and delicious leafy greens, herbs, salad dressings, dips and cooking sauces all year round to retail, restaurant and foodservice customers. A Certified B Corporation, Gotham Greens sustainably grows high-quality produce using up to 95% less water and 97% less land than conventional farming through its national network of climate-controlled, high-tech greenhouses. Since its launch in 2011, Gotham Greens has grown from a single urban rooftop greenhouse in Brooklyn, N.Y., to one of the largest hydroponic leafy green producers in North America. By 2023, Gotham Greens will own and operate 13 high-tech, climate-controlled hydroponic greenhouses, totaling more than 40 acres (1.8 million square feet) across nine states. Gotham Greens products are available in more than 3,000 grocery stores nationwide. 

[Category: Exclusives from Urban Ag News, Industry News, Business, Greenhouse, Greenhouse Technology, Hydroponics, Indoor Ag Technology, Technology, Vertical Farming]

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[l] at 2/23/23 6:00am
Available now via FreshDirect, The Koyo Berry joins the ever-popular Omakase Berry in Oishii’s offerings of exceptional vertically farmed strawberries that offer a flavor unlike any other. JERSEY CITY, NEW JERSEY February 23, 2023 Today, vertical farming leader Oishii launched The Koyo Berry, the newest varietal grown by the beloved strawberry brand. The Koyo Berry will join the coveted Omakase Berry as Oishii’s second strawberry, bringing an entirely new flavor profile to the table. Each tray of Koyo Berries is non-GMO, pesticide free, perfectly ripe, and always-in-season.  Meaning “elated” in Japanese, The Koyo Berry is a Japanese cultivar, traditionally grown just outside Tokyo during the winter months. The strawberry is marked by its refreshing sweetness, balanced acidity, fragrant aroma, and slightly firm texture. The nutrient-rich berries are grown hyper locally in Oishii’s state-of-the-art indoor vertical farms. Evoking sweet summer memories, The Koyo Berry is always picked at the peak of ripeness to excite even the most discerning fruit-lover. “When we founded Oishii, we made a promise to set a new standard for how we enjoy produce. The Omakase Berry was an important first step in that journey, and today, we are so proud to introduce The Koyo Berry – which builds on our brand’s legacy for delivering clean, fresh strawberries that are unlike anything you’ve ever tasted before,” said Hiroki Koga, CEO and Co-Founder of Oishii.  “Every bite of The Koyo Berry immediately transports me to a warm summer day – even though it’s the middle of winter in New York,” added Brendan Somerville, Oishii’s COO and CO-Founder. “I can’t wait for our customers to try these berries.” Beginning today, The Koyo Berry is available via FreshDirect in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut for $15 MSRP for a tray. It will expand to other markets, including Los Angeles, later this year. “Known for our valued vendor partnerships and quality fresh food, we’re excited to offer these delicious Koyo berries exclusively to our customers – whether they prefer the balanced brightness of The Koyo Berry or the delicate sweetness of The Omakase Berry.” said Mary Mitchell, Category Merchant, Produce at FreshDirect. “Each bite of The Koyo Berry delivers a refreshing zing and sweet finish which elevates the timeless strawberry flavor.”  Oishii introduced its first strawberry – The Omakase Berry – in 2018, which quickly caught the attention of Michelin-starred chefs, tastemakers, and consumers for its sweetness, aroma, and creamy texture. Priced between $6-$20 MSRP depending on tray size, The Omakase Berry now retails at Whole Foods Market, among other grocery purveyors.  The company currently operates three indoor vertical farms – two outside of Manhattan and one in Los Angeles. The brand recently opened its flagship Mugen Farm, a 74,000 square foot facility that introduced pioneering technology to make Oishii’s precision growing process even more efficient. Each harvest in the new farm relies on advanced robotics combined with traditional Japanese farming methods, using 60% less energy and 40% less water than first generation farms. As the first vertical farming company to perfect the strawberry at commercial scale, Oishii harmoniously marries nature, technology, and farming techniques perfected for decades in Japan to grow its prized fruit, which is pollinated naturally with bees.  The vertical farming innovator is also currently in development on new types of flowering produce. About Oishii Oishii (“delicious” in Japanese) is an innovative company transforming agriculture through vertical farming. The company is behind the world’s largest indoor vertical strawberry farm. Harmoniously marrying nature with technology, Oishii has recreated the elements—rain, air, heat, light, and nourishment—to preserve and embrace nature’s finest for the perfect fruit every time, all year round. Oishii is known for their Omakase Berry and Koyo Berry, special Japanese strawberries grown pesticide-free in the company’s vertical farms located just outside of Manhattan and in Culver City, California. Founded in 2016, Oishii’s investors include McWin, Bloom8, SPARX Group, Sony Innovation Fund, PKSHA Technology, and Social Starts. The company was recognized as one of Fast Company’s “World’s Most Innovative Companies” in 2022. For more information, visit www.oishii.com. 

[Category: Business, Industry News, Indoor Ag Technology, LED Grow Lights, Strawberries, Technology, Vertical Farming]

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[l] at 2/22/23 10:24am
DALLAS and ELCANO, Navarra, Spain—Feb. 22, 2023—In a move to address agriculture’s mounting labor problems, while also providing a more environmentally sustainable solution, commercial horticultural supplier Hort Americas announced today it’s now the exclusive distributor of Agrifast’s Tomsystem in the United States and Canada. Between limited availability and the rising costs of employing qualified ag labor, farms and greenhouses continue to face significant workforce challenges. At the same time, increasing numbers of business owners and investors are turning to greenhouse technology to explore more eco-friendly methods for growing fresh produce. Hort Americas and Agrifast see the Tomsystem as a simple but elegant piece of agtech that addresses two major issues vine crop greenhouse growers are facing today. “I am always looking for simplicity,” said Chris Higgins, Hort Americas president and co-founder. “To me, simplicity almost always represents the best solution. With the Tomsystem, we have a product that has been used and perfected by growers around the world. By simply converting to a galvanized steel clip, we have addressed a major issue on how we deal with and manage crop waste at the end of the season.” The Tomsystem replaces traditional crop-supporting methods. Besides the sustainability benefits, the process also lowers the labor cost per hectare, providing the grower a significant net economic gain.  “We are very enthusiastic to start this new project in North America with Hort Americas,” said Alberto Lizarraga, Tomsystem product manager. “We think it is the perfect partner for this product. Together, we can contribute to increasing the efficiency of many companies involved in the greenhouse sector.” Clipping speed with the Tomsystem averages around 2,000 plants per hour, two times faster than with conventional methods. Additionally, the clipping tool closes in five positions, allowing for adjustments based on crop thickness and weight. “As a rule of thumb, the Tomsystem can reduce staff for clipping greenhouse crops on a basis of one person per hectare for crops such as tomatoes, cucumbers, sweet peppers and eggplants,” Lizarraga added. The Tomsystem is currently used in 40 countries and has thousands of tools in the market. About Hort AmericasHort Americas is dedicated to playing an integral role in the different niches of commercial horticulture. We work closely with key manufacturers to develop and bring the highest quality, technically advanced and most cost effective products to the greenhouse growers and vertical farmers in Canada, the United States, the Caribbean and Mexico. Learn more today about our commitment, services and products at http://www.hortamericas.com. About AgrifastAgrifast specializes in design, production and commercialization of fastening systems for viticulture and the horticultural industry. The company develops products designed to reduce labor costs without penalizing tying quality. Agrifast always identifies niche markets needing to reduce the influence of labor costs in overall product costs. Learn more about the Tomsystem at https://thetomsystem.com/en/.

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

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[l] at 2/20/23 8:00am
Controlled environment agriculture is NOT exclusive to leafy greens. The term CEA could as easily be applied to the environment required to grow a wide range of edible mushrooms with added health benefits. It seems to be a different type of farmer that grows mushrooms, but essentially the skills are an extension to planting a seed in a substrate on a shelf, then controlling and monitoring the temperature, humidity, airflow and lighting schedule until harvest. The difference is that the seed is a spore and you inoculate the substrate with the tiniest involvement of water. The life cycle of the crop can vary but once cropping begins, several flushes of mushroom fruiting are possible. Pink Oyster (Pleurotus djamor) will produce 5-10 days after the spawn (seed) has been initiated in the substrate for 2-4 weeks. Blue Oyster Mushrooms grown on a recycled coffee substrate Of course other mushrooms may take slightly longer but with energy costs rising fast, growing high value medicinal mushrooms could be an additional revenue for CEA farms with an easy adaptation of current farming technology.  Dare I say it, switching off the lights to save energy to get farms through lean periods isn’t the worst idea either. ‘Right tech for the market’  —Chris Higgins  Mushrooms belong to the kingdom of fungi, which is separate from plants and animals. They are part of a huge 100,000 range in species. Approximately 2000 of these mushrooms are edible and more than 500 can be described as having significant health benefits. Wow, how many do you eat or even have access to? I know my larder was limited until I discovered their anti-inflammatory and nutritional value. The most cultivated is the common button mushroom (Agaricus bisporus) often referred to in its mature state as the portobello mushroom (now called Agaricus brunnescens). This white chestnut mushroom is commercially produced, and the one most often seen on our grocery shelves. Only if you veer off into a specialist shop can you see an alternative range on offer including Oysters of all colors, and Shiitake. Many are not yet mainstream but we hope to highlight why you should grow these in CEA. One reason is that the global medicinal mushroom market is strong and expected to grow to 6,870.7 Million USD during the forecast years 2022-2030. Secondly mushrooms are a good alternative source of protein if you are vegetarian, and are low in fat and high in vitamins and minerals. Medicinal mushrooms and health benefits The first significant recognition of medicinal properties in mushrooms began with Alexander Flemings discovery of Penicillin in 1928. The discovery led to the Nobel prize in 1945 but it might never have been noticed, since it was only by chance that cultures were left on an open bench and a mold spore infected the medium. Penicillin is the world’s most common antibiotic, most commonly prescribed as amoxicillin to treat a wide range of bacterial infections. Almost all edible mushrooms will have inherent antibiotic and anti-inflammatory properties. Ancient Medicine  Since ancient times mushrooms have been used for their medicinal properties, particularly in Japanese and Chinese cultures. Europeans knew of these benefits too. DNA extracted from Otzi the iceman, found buried in a glacier 5000 years ago revealed he had two mushrooms with him while navigating the Alps. Birch polypore, better known as hoof fungus (Fomes fomentarius) may have been in his possession to help combat parasites but most likely he used it for tinder (amadou, the dry cork-like inner is commonly used in fly fishing to aid buoyancy). Hoof fungus (which sounds pretty unappetising) is mentioned by Hippocrates for dressing wounds, in Chinese medicine to treat cancers, and in Indian medicine as a diuretic, laxative, and relaxant. Recent studies show extracts have a significant modulatory effect on drug-resistant breast cancer cells. Fantastic Fungi If you begin to research medicinal mushrooms one of the leading mycologists, Paul Stamets, is perhaps the starting point. Stamets tells a heartfelt story about his mother Patty who survived breast cancer after taking Turkey tail extracts, which appeared to accelerate her immune recovery post-radiotherapy. Stamets, whose profile was raised by the Netflix film ‘Fantastic Fungi’, has dedicated his life to the research of important medicinal mushrooms. In Asia more than 100 varieties of mushroom are used to treat cancer but how do you know which ones to grow for the best value and the greatest health benefits? Let us share with you why you should grow these in CEA In 1993, Japanese researchers showed extracts from Lion’s mane could stimulate nerves to regrow. The findings could have implications in the treatment of Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases. Active compounds in Lion’s mane mushroom can help promote neurogenesis and enhance memory, a new study reports. This is because Lion’s mane is high in nerve growth factor, important for the myelin sheath that surrounds nerve fibers. It’s an important discovery which could lead to a breakthrough in the treatment of Multiple Sclerosis and many other diseases. Lion’s mane (Hericium erinaceus) (Cropping potential every 7-14 days)* Image courtesy of our friends at Full Circle Mushrooms, New Mexico. Reishi (Cropping cycle twice in 90-120 days)* Image courtesy of our friend, mushroom expert Dr Ardalan Ghilavizadeh, at Veggitech, UAE. Ardalan is a leading expert in the field of Reishi, Lion’s mane, King Oyster and is the author of several books on the subject. Ganoderma lucidum, a red variety of Reishi (Japanese for Divine), is a polypore fungus native to East Asia that belongs to the genus Ganoderma. Its reddish brown varnished kidney-shaped cap with bands and peripherally inserted stem gives it a distinct fan-like appearance. This mushroom cannot be consumed fresh, but must be dried after harvest and then marketed. Other members of the genus may have different medicinal properties and although less mainstream, more availability of these cultures will help increase biodiversity in this space. The health benefits of Reishi have been widely demonstrated and with known anti-cancer properties it is not surprising it is widely used in Asian alternative medicine. Reishi contains over 400 different bioactive compounds including Beta-glucans. Research shows promise in altering inflammatory pathways in white blood cells, switching on natural killer cell genes which help fight infection and cancer. Turkey tail (trametes versicolor) sometimes called blue or green Reishi loves to grow on hardwood (Cropping cycle 2-3 flushes over 3 months)* Enokitake Oyster, Shiitake, Maitake and Shimeji. (Cropping cycle every 2-3 weeks)* One of the most colorful mushrooms, Turkey tail increases lactobacillus and bifidobacterium, both probiotics that decrease dangerous bacteria including E Coli, shigella, clostridium and Staphylococcus Aureus. Polysaccharide-K (PSK) or krestin, from T. versicolor, is an approved mushroom product in the treatment of cancer in Japan. There is evidence that PSK in Turkey tail improves 5 year survival rates in gastric and colon cancer, though only at less advanced staging. Enoki (Flammulina velutipes) mushrooms are an interesting choice because they fruit in winter and need very little light to grow. I’ve eaten these in a traditional Japanese Shabu Shabu where they taste amazing cooked in a light soy broth. Some cultures have long associations with mushrooms: epidemiologists found farmers who grow and eat enokitake in Nagano prefecture in Japan have a 40% lower incidence of cancer-related mortality. Although Lentinan from Shiitake mushrooms increases the survivability from stomach, prostate, colorectal and liver cancer, you should cook Shiitake mushrooms for longer to avoid potential negative effects from high doses.  Cordyceps  Cordyceps are a source of a wide range of nutraceutical and medicinal metabolites. Recent studies suggest it may have anti-aging effects, most likely due to its anti-inflammatory properties. They are actually quite a rare mushroom, leading to a high market value. Various commercially viable culture methods have been established, depending on the type of Cordycep grown. Our friend Huan Shuma in Peru has kindly allowed us to share his liquid culture development of Cordyceps militaris grown on an organic brown rice substrate. The strain was sourced from leading Cordyceps expert Ryan Paul Gates’ from Terrestrial Fungi. Images of different stages of growth in Cordyceps Militaris courtesy of our friend Huan Shuma from @chavinherbalists Starting cultures like this requires a degree of skilled sterile culture technique and the appropriate technology. Many of us in the plant tissue culture world will have the ability to adapt our skills and equipment. Creating a bank of initiates from spores can take some time to get clean but after this stage you can inoculate either sterilized substrates or wooden dowels that are then drilled into preferential tree stumps. Mushrooms can grow easily in a controlled environment  I have grown the easiest of these mushrooms, the blue Oyster (Pleurotus ostreatus) on a coffee waste substrate (main image). It was so simple. No inoculation is required in pre-prepared kits and it gives you a good feel for the right conditions before you start investing further. The taste was satisfying, added to by the pleasure of having grown it myself. The medicinal mushrooms we have described Oysters, Enoki, Shiitake, Cordyceps, Reishi and Turkey tail can be farmed in CEA. Each variety needs a particular temperature to thrive, and this varies throughout the growing cycle. Pink Oyster mushrooms, for example, prefer a temperature of around 80 F which makes them more attractive to warmer climate/seasonal growers. Other Oysters fruit at cooler temperatures anywhere from 40-70 F which could be a seasonal shift depending on the market being served. King Oyster image courtesy of Dr Ardalan Ghilavizadeh Temperature plays a vital role in the quality of mushrooms; the optimum is anywhere between 65-75 F for the development of the majority of mushrooms. Above this temperature, mushrooms might get too dry. They love a humid, damp environment. Monitoring moisture levels during the cultivation period is vital for continuous harvests. HVAC in isolated rooms is needed for commercial cycles, and many farms use shipping containers which offer flexibility and isolation.  Log culture (where spawn-inoculated dowels are pushed into logs) was developed more than a millennium ago, and is still used today. The majority of mushrooms we have described are wood-loving species which are happy to grow on sawdust, straw or other high-lignin substrates. These are often readily accessible waste products. The main exception is Cordyceps, which requires a more specialized substrate that replicates its insect host.  Mushrooms require light only when developing fruit from mycelium. As a general rule, a few hours of dim light is sufficient for mushrooms to develop their edible fruiting bodies, also called ‘pinning’ as in the image above. Buying ready-made substrate such as the above already inoculated with spawn can save time. Spawn can be delivered in a variety of forms, including liquid inoculate, or grain which is typically used by commercial cultivators. This overcomes the issue of maintaining viable spawn in cultures which can be time-limited to a matter of months in refrigerated condition. As they start to grow out, with mycelium pushing forward, the substrate becomes dense in carbon dioxide levels. Some, like Reishi, need very high CO2 levels (up to 40,000 ppm) during the early ‘antler’ stage under condensing fogging environments for high humidity. According to Dr Ghilavizadeh most mushrooms require a CO2 level of around 1000 ppm (remember the ambient level is 421 ppm). Low intensity LEDs are ideal to stimulate growth when mushrooms are grown indoors. Oyster, Shiitake, and Reishi all demonstrate strong photosensitivity. Blue light is an important environmental factor that induces mushroom primordial development and fruiting bodies in Oysters. Shiitake are also known to produce primordia with low light levels (10.5 μmol/m2/s) in the blue range (peak 455 nm). Other studies suggest red and blue LEDs can increase biomass. More research in CEA will provide better insights for farmers on both spectrum and light intensity at different developmental stages in cultivated mushrooms.  Reach out if you need advice on low intensity LED lighting.  From what we can establish from Paul Stamets’ book, Oyster primordial formation needs around 750-1500 lux and fresh air exchange every 4-8 hours. Reishi primordia (antler) stage needs 4-8 hrs at 200-500 lux increasing to 500-1000 lux at conk and the final fruiting stage requires 750-1500 lux for 12 hrs/day. Reishi is slow growing and will crop twice in 90-120 days depending on ideal conditions. Harvesting your mushrooms  Dr Ghilavizadeh advises picking your mushrooms at just the right time. These yellow Oysters are at the right stage for picking. He says ‘the first hand is the harvester and the second hand must be the hand that wants those mushrooms to cook’. The best time to harvest colored mushrooms is very early in the morning at the peak of their pigmentation. Mushrooms should be stored in a cool place at a temperature of four degrees (39.2F) immediately after harvest to maintain their durability prior to drying and packaging. In the Wild We have described the main mushrooms grown for medicinal properties (excluding magic mushrooms) but there are so many more out there waiting to be discovered and cultured like the cinnamon- and orange-smelling Hericium novae-zealandiae. Image courtesy of our friend Mike Wallace: Hericium novae-zealandiae (formerly Hericium coralloides) is a saprotrophic fungus, commonly known as the coral tooth fungus. It is a relative of Lion’s mane and has a mushroomy ‘seafood’ taste akin to lobster, I am told. Taking a culture from spores, Mike grew this coral tooth fungus from the wild. Visible fruiting bodies germinated on sterile culture medium as the hyphae extend out. Wild Californian morels (Morchella vulgaris) courtesy of our friend Shannon Maas at Shasta Mycology. Morels are known to contain one of the highest amounts of Vitamin D among all edible mushrooms. Image courtesy of my friend and mushroom forager Maxime Jay of Coeur Sauvage Scotland : Chicken or Hen of the woods (Laetiporus Sp) as it’s known in Scotland. I guess the argument of which is best, wild or cultivated, is dependent on access, knowledge and supply. There is no doubt in my mind, having been out in the Scottish hills with Maxime, that wild mushrooms will always have a niche high-quality market value in food service. Chaga (Inonotus obliquus) No account of medicinal mushrooms is  complete without Chaga. ‘Superlife’ author Darin Olien’s health regime includes Chaga in his ‘Shakeology’ superfood and as a tea to combat daily stress. It’s a strange hard black fungus with a high melanin content and a surprisingly sweet taste due to vanillin.  It has demonstrated some impressive medicinal properties as an immune boosting anticancer agent in lab tests. But be careful, as it also contains high oxalates so is inadvisable for anyone with kidney disease or who is pregnant. It may not be suitable for growing in CEA but I would love to be proven wrong on that. Rare Cordyceps could hold the key to future medicines  Himalayan Gold: Cordyceps sinesis or Kida Jada (Hindi). Thank you to our friend Dr. Shashank Saini who found these ultra-rare Ophiocordyceps sinesis  on a hike at Badrinath district, Uttrakhand, India in the Himalayas. These fungi (technically they are not a mushroom) cannot be farmed despite being valued at more than three times their weight in gold. They are sought after for aphrodisiac effects and also used by some athletes to improve their performance. Cordycepin, the bioactive compound in the fungus, has potential medicinal and therapeutic applications and shows promising cytotoxicity in cancer cells. However, a word of caution, this mushroom can have antiplatelet effects, as it acts as a blood thinner so could increase the risk of bleeding or bruising. The fungus requires a special environment at 4500 ft altitude and is only found in the Himalayas around the Sino-Indian border and in Tibet. The area is covered with glaciers and the fungus releases endoparasitic spores which infect a caterpillar. During winter the fungus grows out of the insects head to form a bud inside the snow and remains frozen until spring. As the glaciers melt in early summer the fruiting bodies (as shown in the figure) grow out of the soil and are harvested by local people. Check out this never-before-seen video of the fungus and a live caterpillar in Badrinath district, Uttrakhand, India in the Himalayas. Despite Cordyceps scary film debut in ‘The Last of Us’ (based on an action adventure computer game) we can reassure you these fungi are not in evolutionary terms about to take over higher animal species. Instead, with more research they may hold important bio pharmaceutical compounds that aid human health.  Image courtesy of my friend Gloria MacDonald. Wild chanterelles (Cantharellus cibarius) growing wild in the woods beside my home in Scotland. False chanterelle is flatter on top, with less of a forked edge. It is crucial to know what you are looking for as you could have a nasty turn when eating your mushroom pizza if you pick the wrong type. When foraging in the wild, it’s important to preserve the ecosystem by not over-collecting. How to eat them?  A different set of skills helps you combine mushrooms in a meal where the medicinal qualities are retained. Whether eaten fresh in a Shabu Shabu or as dried extracts in a tea, there is no doubt medicinal mushrooms have a significant health benefit. * Cropping information from Paul Stamets’ book ‘Growing Gourmet and Medicinal Mushrooms’. All Images unless otherwise stated are the property of Urban Ag News, please ask for permission to reprint our articles. We thank Brian Harris, Dr Shashank Saini, Dr Ardalan Ghilavizadeh, Ximena Zamacona, Huan Shuma, Mike Wallace, Maxime Jay, Shannon Maas, Gloria Macdonald and Jake Wilson for their contributions to this article. Image credit: The FeedFeed Enoki in traditional Japanese hotpot. Disclaimer Despite their popularity, there are potential dangers inherent in consuming mushrooms. Always take advice from a qualified mycologist if you want to add fresh or foraged mushrooms to your diet. 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.

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