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[l] at 11/26/22 6:00am
Last year, venture capitalist companies invested $51.7 billion in Ag Tech, but what exactly is Ag Tech? Ag Tech is technology focused agriculture that is meant to increase existing efficiency processes in agriculture and sustainability, which includes everything from aquaculture to new crops/genetics, to animal health to the controlled environment agriculture industry. With dwindling resources, increasing populations, and climate concerns, Robert Colangelo and his new ag tech company, CEA Technologies Inc., are seeking “to transform agriculture by developing sustainable indoor growing technology that can grow in any climate, free of pesticides using less, energy water and soil” with their unique modular scalable farm that has an inflatable structure, low-cost pest and thermal barrier. In the October episode of the Indoor Ag Café, Robert Colangelo discusses their patent pending, modular scalable farm and how the company is looking to change how we all look at vertical farming’s profitability, production costs and the ideal vertical farm size. You can view Colangelo’s presentation at https://scri-optimia.org/show_cafe.php?ID=111163. Indoor Ag Science Café is an outreach program of the OptimIA project, funded by the USDA SCRI grant program. Interested parties can join the free café forums, live or recorded (http://www.scri-optimia.org). The café forum is designed to serve as a communication platform among scientists and indoor farming professionals.

[Category: Business, Education, Industry News, Indoor Ag Sci Cafe, Technology, Vertical Farming]

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[l] at 11/14/22 6:01am
One Of The World’s Largest Indoor Farms Is Using Advanced Tech To Build A More Resilient Food System Business Insider — AppHarvest is exploring the future of indoor farming and agriculture technology by using up to 90% less water, human-assisting AI, and the power of the sun for reliable food growth. Alongside local education efforts, AppHarvest’s main focus is to provide US consumers with sustainable, reliable produce so that we can all enjoy a healthier, more vibrant planet in the future. To learn more about how Dell Technologies is powering innovation, visit https://www.dell.com/en-us/dt/what-we-do/index.htm

[Category: Industry News, Business, Food Production, Greenhouse, Greenhouse Technology, Technology]

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[l] at 11/12/22 9:37am
From conflict to climate change, our food is under pressure like never before. Amanda Little meets farmers on three continents trying to rise to the challenge. Farmers try to increase yield and do so sustainably as the world population increases. Watch more of the series from BBC:https://www.bbc.com/reel/playlist/follow-the-food-a-new-world?vpid=p0d9xnpz

[Category: Business, Industry News, Food Production]

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[l] at 11/11/22 1:27pm
Azlan Zahid, Ph.D., working on an controlled environment agriculture project at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Dallas. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo by Sam Craft) Grant-funded stakeholder meeting Dec. 5 coincides with annual controlled environment ag conference in Dallas By Adam Russell, Texas A&M AgriLife Developments within Texas A&M AgriLife’s urban agriculture efforts could pave the way for expanded research opportunities and progress in the field of controlled environment agriculture production. Texas A&M AgriLife Research recently received a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant that could guide federal investment in controlled environment agriculture production in Texas and the U.S. The urban agriculture advisory committee funded through the grant will hold its first meeting Dec. 5 to coincide with the fourth annual Urban Agriculture: Controlled Environment Conference at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center in Dallas on Dec. 6. Texas A&M AgriLife scientists at the Dallas center involved in the grant and conference are Azlan Zahid, Ph.D., AgriLife Research assistant professor of controlled environment agriculture engineering in the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering; and Joe Masabni, Ph.D., AgriLife Extension horticulturist; Genhua Niu, Ph.D., AgriLife Research professor of urban agriculture; and Daniel Leskovar, Ph.D., interim director of the center at Dallas and a professor of vegetable physiology and plant sciences, all in Department of Horticultural Sciences. Grant to identify controlled environment agriculture priorities Zahid said the $50,000 grant from the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture is a planning grant designed to identify research priorities within controlled environment farming. The advisory committee meeting and conference will help with planning and priority identification. Zahid said the first step of the grant was to create the advisory committee made up of growers and industry representatives who will help AgriLife Research identify research needs. But the grant will also fund online surveys and meetings designed to identify economically viable hydroponic leafy green crops and gauge growers’ interest in adopting new technology in their controlled environment operations. “We want to develop a comprehensive research plan based on stakeholder challenges and needs,” he said. “There is a lot of interest in controlled environment production and urban farming, and this is the first step toward developing a plan and producing data to justify different research projects in this emerging field.” Conference welcomes experienced and new growers The fourth annual Urban Agriculture: Controlled Environment Conference is led by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service specialists and AgriLife Research faculty. Texas A&M AgriLife Research scientists working in one of the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center’s state-of-the-art greenhouses in Dallas. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo by Mark Herboth) Masabni said new and prospective controlled environment growers and hydroponic growers and enthusiasts of all skill levels are encouraged to attend. Register for either in-person or online attendance to the conference at https://tx.ag/UrbanAgConference. Producers, industry insiders like Hoogendoorn and Eden Green Technology as well as research scientists from academic institutions like Cornell University, Oklahoma State University, University of Arizona and University of California, Davis will be engaged in the discussions, Masabni said. The registration fee includes a box lunch, catered dinner and a reception. A tour of the center’s greenhouse facilities will demonstrate hydroponic and aquaponic systems in production. For more details, contact Masabni at jmasabni@ag.tamu.edu. “The timing of the grant and the conference worked out perfectly,” Masabni said. “This advisory committee meeting and the conference creates a good chance for growers and the industry to connect with academics in the field and identify the challenges and opportunities in urban agriculture.” Interest in controlled environment agriculture grows   Controlled environment vegetable production is a booming field in the U.S., but the domestic industry is far behind because of a lack of research investment, Zahid said. He said the USDA views urban controlled environment production as a potential way to directly address food deserts, avoid supply chain disruptions, reduce carbon footprints by removing logistical steps between farms and the market while improving nutritional values with harvest-ready produce for local consumers. But there are challenges associated with controlling temperature, humidity, light spectrum and carbon dioxide, Zahid said. Engagement with people familiar with controlled environment farming’s pitfalls and potential can help steer the field toward maximizing the latter. “These discussions and meetings and surveys will help us identify the needs and develop a collaborative network to produce a system-based approach,” he said. “There will be different challenges for industry and individuals, different priorities and different challenges based on things like location, say South Texas compared to North Texas. But this will help us develop a research plan, prioritize projects and submit proposals.”

[Category: Education, Industry News]

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[l] at 11/7/22 5:51am
Michigan State University invites you to participate in their Controlled Environmental Agriculture (CEA) labor survey. The purpose of this survey is to understand production-related labor requirements and estimate labor costs in CEA farms, including a vertical/indoor farm setting, containers or permanent greenhouses. In this survey, you will be asked about labor hours, level of automation and associated costs through your farm’s production stages. Your answers will be completely anonymous and no personally identifiable information will be asked. This survey should take about 20 minutes.  Take the survey If you have any questions about this survey, please contact Simone Valle de Souza, from Michigan State University, phone: (517) 884 8042 or email: valledes@msu.edu.

[Category: Business, Education, Industry News, Greenhouse, Hydroponics, Michigan State University, Survey]

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[l] at 11/7/22 5:38am
“You should never hesitate to trade your cow for a handful of magic beans. “ — Tom Robbins   Protein Replacement is a hot topic  Nutrition and protein replacement in particular is a global health concern with implications for the future direction of the planet, not least because the tide could be turning on less sustainable types of food production. We have had some in CEA evangelizing about the power of CEA to feed us all in the future, but the reality is that we need all agricultural practices to work together where appropriate to create resilient sustainable supply food chains close to where people live. Given this opportunity we should consider how we assist the creation of new plant proteins in hi tech towers and glasshouses. It is with this thought in mind that we could be overlooking the potential of the fabaceae family which includes legumes (pulses are the edible dry seeds) that have sustained entire continents in times of need. Amethyst Beans harvested after growing in CEA aeroponics under TLEDs. Getting real with alternative proteins  We want to explore if pulses and specifically beans grown in CEA could provide complementary protein to that found traditionally in meat, dairy, fish and more recently, cellular meat (which is different from plant based burgers that incorporates soy, wheat, potato or mushroom protein). It should be noted that cellular meat also uses soy protein for scaffolds i.e. a lattice for cells to grow into 3D meat. Let’s begin with an argument. Many in the medical community advocate a plant based diet to be wholly adequate to supply all the bodys protein requirements. Others argue that plants do not contain an adequate source of protein and that animal protein is essential for supplementing our diets. It could be time to challenge the assumption that ‘real men eat meat’. Whatever your stance, we do know that essential amino acids, thought to be less abundant in plant based diets, could in part be provided by chickpeas and soya beans, helping to supplement vegan or vegetarian diets. Make sure you add seeds, nuts, whole grains and lentils to ensure you get all nine essential amino acids. If you are worried about the lack of Vitamin B12 which cannot be provided by vegetables, try a source of shiitake mushrooms or nori seaweed in your diet.  ‘Beans are a great value for money meal and source of protein during the cost of living crisis’ While I’m old enough to have visions of Mel Brooks blazing saddles around the campfire, there are so many delicious recipes that create a heart warming meal from a range of pulses, legumes and lentils. Theoretically speaking it is better for the planet too if we consider biogenic methane production from a cows four stomach chambers versus our human gut should we consume more beans as our protein source in preference over animal protein.  A trick to avoid gas: Eat more beans! Why? We often lack an enzyme called alpha-galactosidase produced by gut bacteria. This enzyme helps break down complex sugars that can, if not fully digested, cause excessive wind. As your body gets used to eating more beans (they act as a prebiotic to increase the good bacteria), more enzyme is produced in the gut to digest these carbohydrates.  Bean based soup with chickpeas (in Spanish: Garbanzo beans), can add nutritional value to cheaper meals. Beans are a staple in the diets of many underdeveloped countries, they taste good in meals and can in fact cost far less than meat based stews. They are also on a calorie ‘like for like’ basis much better for your health as well as being cheaper to produce. So the question then becomes, can we grow them close to where people live and in large enough quantities?  Many people are unaware that chickpeas and other pulses contain components that when eaten as part of a balanced plant-rich diet, help prevent the development of diseases like diabetes and heart disease. These beans have a soluble fiber called raffinose, which is fermented in the colon by beneficial bacteria and has been shown to reduce inflammation. Chickpeas also contain a cholesterol like plant sterol called sitosterol that can trick the body into lowering blood cholesterol levels. The satiating effect of the high fiber and protein content of chickpeas may also help with weight management, another major factor in lifestyle disease progression. The practicality of growing bean vines in VF like many other plants is dependent on the number of plants per square foot, breeding programmes to increase nodes (spectrum is likely to play an important function in early flowering) and compliant technology. Research into the economic efficiency for well designed CEA facilities (lights, oxygen, fertilizer) and indoor grow rooms should be considered versus higher energy outputs when considering new crops like beans. But, with quick production cycles and all year round growing potential, farms could easily be adapted much like other vines such as tomatoes and chillies to grow unique high protein legumes. They could even be tacked onto the side of existing horizontal structures with additional inter-canopy lighting. High production cycles are likely to determine profitability so modeling through trials is recommended. Which ones to choose? There are literally thousands of beans to choose from, with more than 40,000 known varieties of common bean. Here are just a few I have in my collection.  Butter bean zlota saxaFrench climbing blauhildeLimaSoyaBush amethystPole viola do assiagoBambara (with seed coat) Pole blaueNonna Agnes The Functional Plant Co in Scotland have been studying beans like Lima and ways to increase nodal development in CEA TC to produce high quality slips for continuous batch supply to plant factory’s. Native American Beans are steeped in tradition  Pole beans were a staple of Native Americans with more than 5000 known varieties spread worldwide. They have a long tradition in Native American culture including the Hopi tribe, whose Bean Clan is called Murzibusi. Such importance has been associated with beans, that some eastern tribes, like the Lenape, Shawnee and Iroquois actually have a ‘Bean Dance’ amongst their tribal dance traditions. Despite myths of their Mexican origins, Anasazi beans are thought to have been cultivated throughout generations of Southwestern Native American tribes. Today these beans are commonly used in many Latin American and Southwestern cooking turning pink once cooked, and are often used in refried bean recipes due to the sweetness. Remember it was the Indians that invented succotash with sweetcorn, lima and other mixed beans. The Many Health benefits of beans  Regular consumption of beans has been linked to disease prevention, including cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Beans have a strong nutritional profile, marked by a high amount of iron, calcium and potassium per serving. As well as antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral properties, beans have a low glycemic index and are found to be high in lectins, a glucose-binder, with potential to avoid sugar spikes and naturally treat diabetes. If that wasn’t enough, the anti-inflammatory effects of these magical beans may also help you fight cancer. The Color Purple  The red/blue color of beans is due to a group of biological pigments called anthocyanins. This same group of compounds is also responsible for the rare blue pigments we see in nature. Nonna Agnes Beans An analysis of black beans showed most of the anthocyanins to be delphinidin, with lesser amounts of petunidin and malvidin. Delphinidin and malvidin are responsible for the blue color in various flowers. Petunidin is described as having a dark-red/purple color adding to greater health benefits. Growing Beans in CEA One of the most commonly used Native-American gardening techniques was ‘Three Sisters’, probably the first no till agriculture method on the continent. They planted corn, squash and bean seeds together. The beans provide nitrogen for the soil, the corn was a natural trellis and the squash a canopy to deter pests.  The three sisters companion planting originated from native Indian farming of maize, beans and squash.  Respectfully we’ve come a long way since then but as we look for protein replacements, beans are a natural choice to incorporate in CEA farms.  From three sisters to one grandma, Nonna Agnes pole bean, one day post germination in high strength Gibberellin.  The seeds of Nonna Agnes, a pearlest blue heirloom bean from you guessed it, Italy, germinate in a day with the hypocotyl peeking through the outer layer and reaching for light via tropic geotropism. The strength in beans is phenomenal as the large carbohydrate seed store forces the tap root downwards and shoots up.  In normal soil production this can take several days longer than germinating in a controlled environment. Obviously the stronger the young plants, the more vigorous they are and with inter-canopy spectral LEDs it is possible to force flowering much earlier than in the field, with higher yields in a shorter time frame.  These modest-looking legumes pack a mighty health punch. In addition to being an aforementioned protein source, they are an excellent source of fiber and act as a prebiotic, providing a nutrient source for beneficial bacteria and microorganisms that make up the gut biome in our digestive tracts.  Let there be light amongst the vines  If we are to grow these kinds of crops in CEA we need internodal spaced LEDS or a vertical hanging design to ensure efficient light intensity delivery to ripen pods. We already grow tomatoes with aerial LEDs so alternative vine crops like beans should be no different. Much will come down to modeling of economic returns. New technology emerging such as intercanopy lights to grow indoor vines will also add to biomass with higher yields and increased flowering during off peak times of the year. Choosing low light varieties that are bred with increased nodes will have a big impact and can help growers switch during tough times for high energy costs. Beans are a perfect example crop that have enough variety to experiment with low light varieties. From the beans I tested, Amethyst, Lima and Pole viola do assiago all produced flowers in two weeks with one TLED at 100umols/m2/s followed by pods in 2-4 weeks and a small harvest in 6-10 weeks.  Faba beans flowering under Currents RB balanced LEDs in Scotland during autumn with average day temps 15-20 Celsius and night lows of 6-10 Celsius.  Soybean pods filling up Another member of the fabaceae is Bambara (Vigna subterranea (L.) Verdc.), an African equivalent of American peanuts growing from extended rhizomes. Also called the Congo groundnut, it is a fast growing plant, but needs warm temperatures over 150 days cultivation. Recent studies have found it to be very high in protein, providing all of the daily nutritional requirements of protein, carbohydrate, unsaturated fatty acids and essential minerals (magnesium, iron, zinc, and potassium). The waste greens can be fed to livestock adding to nutrition and sustainable agriculture.  Unusual varieties like Bambara could be grown in locations previously unheard of, circumventing international supply chains and reducing carbon footprints.  In Africa these beans are grown on small-scale subsistence farms by women, in a rotation with other crops like maize to fix nitrogen in the soil. Despite interest from international companies attracted to its high protein content, the supply chain for Bambara is not yet secure. An opportunity awaits CEA farmers with a warming climate. Perhaps even Texas could become a great location for a new crop. Germination can be slow because of the hard seed coat but once released from this we can use growth regulators to increase germination rates in addition to trialing micropropagation techniques to produce high quantity slips.  Nonna Agnes Beans developing under Currents RB balanced TLEDs indoors in Scotland above. Amethyst bean pods to the right and harvest below, the color change is evident in the last week of production. How we preserve these crops for the future  There is no doubt beans are cheap, sustainable (you can save some seeds for next year), easy to grow and packed full of protein with great health benefits suggesting they are not only good for the cook-book but also for the planet. Variety is key to the success of beans and we hope you look further afield (intentional pun) to incorporate these fine pearlest beans as a regular CEA crop. Don’t know where to start? The Crop Trust in Svalbard, an archipelago off Norway holds a massive bank of beans, conserved from farmers across the world. Of course this is worthless if farmers don’t have access to or take the opportunity to grow these conserved varieties. You can only request samples from depositing genebanks. As the seed bank shows, the way forward is cooperativity between growers around the globe. Breeding of heirloom varieties as well as processing via partners and marketing sustainable protein replacement to consumers will encourage the FMCG industry to create healthy plant based protein products in the future. Image credit: Crop Trust. Svalbard Seed Bank in Norway is our modern day ark. 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: EatThis, Functional Food]

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[l] at 11/2/22 10:49am
The Laboratoire sur l’agriculture urbaine (Urban Agriculture Lab) is collaborating on a webinar on labor requirements in indoor agriculture. The webinar will be led by Dr. Simone Valle de Souza, Assistant Professor at Michigan State University. The indoor agriculture (IA) offers an environmentally sustainable alternative to small or large-scale leafy green production, even in regions with less favorable climates, using significantly less water and land resources, little, if any, pesticides, and providing year-round fresh produce to urban dwellers. Although the concept is not new, only recently relevant technology has achieved economic feasibility enabling the industry to grow at a fast pace. However, while significant efforts have been made towards developing growing systems involving farmers, engineers and plant scientists, little has been produced in terms of social and economic analysis of IA. By encompassing all aspects of the food value chain stages from production, through harvesting, packaging, distribution, and retailing, these urban indoor farms have the ability to generate a range of jobs in urban areas. This presentation will demonstrates the industry’s employment capacity by showing preliminary results obtained from an internationally distributed greenhouse and indoor farm labor survey. We will also invite you to participate in the phase 2 of this survey. Final results will be used to identify and estimate social and economic impact of urban indoor farms. Register now Dr. Simone Valle de Souza Dr. Simone Valle de Souza is an Assistant Professor at Michigan State University, Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics. Her work incorporates economic analysis of the interactions between the development of sustainable food production systems and consumer preferences. Her research seeks to provide a mapping of the trade-offs between inputs and outputs within an agricultural production system to promote industry development, environmental sustainability and improve local community development as well as foster access to high quality fresh food.

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

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[l] at 11/1/22 10:01am
Developed in collaboration with growers, vendors, and academia,  the objective guides provide tips on energy and water conservation related to construction, lighting and HVAC    PORTLAND, Ore. (October 28, 2022) — Resource Innovation Institute (RII), the leading not-for-profit energy and water benchmarking organization providing resource efficiency best practices for CEA producers, announced today the availability of three horticulture best practices guides aiming to provide free resources on the topics of Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) facility design and construction, lighting and HVAC.  Each guide has been developed with expertise and input from business leaders, growers, government policymakers and members of academia to provide an objective, unbiased view on how to implement more efficient growing practices in CEA operations. The guides are available to download completely free of charge for anyone involved in a grow operation.  “The pace of technological innovation, as well as our knowledge of what works best in Controlled Environment Agriculture, is constantly advancing,” said Derek Smith, Executive Director of Resource Innovation Institute. “Including input from experts across the industry, these guides are intended to provide a wide variety of information and advice to support grow operators and their vendors in the design, construction and operation of CEA operations.”   Available for free download immediately, the guides include: CEA Facility Design & Construction Best Practices Guide Information on designing and building high-performance greenhouses and indoor farms cultivation facilities. Download the guide here.  “Controlled environment agriculture operations are complex, multifaceted and often require different strategies and techniques depending on what is being grown and the ultimate objectives,” said Travis Graham, International Account Manager, of Schneider Electric. “Developing these environments requires specialized expertise, which is  why a guide like this can be so useful in understanding all factors to consider.” CEA Lighting Best Practices Guide Best practices on how to speak the language of lighting as well as understanding crucial considerations when selecting LED lighting. Download the guide here. Lighting is one of the most critical decisions a grower will make when designing their facility, said Casey Rivero, cannabis solutions architect for Fluence. Understanding how lighting will affect your financial performance is essential to evaluating lighting providers and ultimately collaborating with them to drive cultivation success. This guide gives growers powerful tools to make informed choices about their lighting strategies.  CEA HVAC Best Practices Guide Understanding HVAC equipment and how to stage systems efficiently and effectively. Download the guide here.  “It should not be a surprise that HVAC requirements for CEA vary wildly depending on the desired outcome and the crop being cultivated,” said Keith Coursin, President of Desert Aire Corp. “This best practices guide should be a ‘must have’ for anyone developing a CEA operation and wish to have the highest energy efficiency results.” The guides are backed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and were developed under a grant from USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service that is designed to accelerate dissemination of objective, data-driven information surrounding the implementation of Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) projects. In support of the guides, RII will be hosting a series of webinars on each guide beginning in September where attendees can hear from industry experts on each topic, as well as ask questions about the best practices presented in the guides.  For more information or to schedule an interview, please contact Emily Meshell at 318-564-8195 or emily@themaverickpr.com. About Resource Innovation Institute: Resilient harvests for the next hundred years Resource Innovation Institute is an objective, data-driven non-profit organization whose mission is to measure, verify and celebrate the world’s most efficient agricultural ideas. We cultivate a better future for all of humanity with our vision of resilient harvests for the next hundred years. Our consortium of members brings perspectives from across the field—uniting architects and engineers, growers and operators, researchers and analysts. Founded in 2016 to advise governments, utilities and industry leaders on the resource impacts of indoor cultivation, an under-studied and resource-intensive market, we have since extended our research to other sectors in partnership with the US Department of Agriculture. To take on the challenges of our changing world, we believe that food, medicine and other vital crops demand data-driven insights, securely shared with integrity. By nurturing the human connections in our complex and dynamic industry, we can build deeply restorative systems for people and the planet. Visit our website at ResourceInnovation.org. Follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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

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[l] at 10/31/22 9:53am
DANVILLE, VA – New connections and collaboration were clear themes that emerged from the October 25-26, 2022 debut edition of the Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) Summit East held at the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR) in Danville, VA. Co-hosted by Indoor Ag-Con and the Controlled Environment Agriculture Innovation Center (a joint project between the School of Plant and Environmental Sciences at Virginia Tech, Virginia Seafood Agricultural Research and Extension Center at Virginia Tech and the IALR), the new event attracted 200 + attendees from 28 states plus Puerto Rico and Canada, including growers, educators, scientists, extension specialists, suppliers, engineers, tech specialists, architect/developers and other industry members. During the day and one-half event, attendees enjoyed quality time to meet, network and learn during keynotes, panels and breakout conference sessions; explore 17 tabletop exhibits presenting the latest innovations and services; and enjoy a host of networking opportunities. The CEA Summit is co-hosted by Indoor Ag-Con and the VT-IALR Controlled Environment Agriculture Innovation Center. Event partners pictured with Virginia Secretary of Agriculture & Forestry (L-R) Telly Tucker, President, IALR; Kaylee South, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Controlled EnvironmentAgriculture, Virginia Tech; Matthew Lohr, Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry; Michael Evans,Ph.D., Co-Director, Controlled Environment Agriculture Innovation Center and Director, School of Plantand Environmental Sciences, Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences; Brian Sullivan, CEO,Indoor Ag-Con; Scott Lowman, Ph.D., Co-Director, Controlled Environment Agriculture Innovation Centerand Vice President, Applied Research, Institute for Advanced Learning and Research “We are so pleased with the results of this first edition and our partnership with the CEA Innovation Center,” says Brian Sullivan, CEO, Indoor Ag-Con. “Both organizations saw a tremendous opportunity to create a different kind of event for this industry –bringing a concentrated sector of business and academic audiences together in an incredible research facility setting that fostered an environment for sharing ideas and opportunities. From the feedback we’ve heard from our attendees and exhibitors alike, we delivered.” “This event really crystalized our vision of bringing our research and education program together to help move the CEA industry forward, added Dr. Scott Lowman, Co-Director, Controlled Environment Agriculture Innovation Center and Vice President, Applied Research, IALR. “An exciting thing about this conference is that it brought people from all over the United States together to share ideas and goals, which always feeds your own ideas,” said Dr. Michael Evans, Co-Director, Controlled Environment Agriculture Innovation Center and Director, School of Plant and Environmental Sciences, Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.” Among the many highlights of the new event included: Morning Kick-Off Keynotes AeroFarms CTO Roger Buelow kicked off opening morning with a keynote sharing more about the newly opened AeroFarms Danville, the world’s largest aeroponic smart farm, capable of growing more than 3 million pounds of fresh leafy greens annually. On day two, Matthew Lohr, Virginia’s Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry, got the day started sharing the state’s focus and goals for growth of the CEA industry. “It comes down to collaboration – with the whole Commonwealth working together. We’ve made progress, and I’m even more excited about what the future of farming looks like,” he said, echoing the core theme of the conference. Educational Tracks The CEA Summit featured 3 educational tracks – CEA Skills, Business Tips & Regulation, and Teaching, Extension, Workforce Development – that brought academics, growers and business experts together covering a wide range of topics from finding funding and selecting technologies for CEA operations to food safety, sustainability aquaponics and ways to work with the land grant university extension system. A special panel discussion titled Building the Future of CEA and 15-minute CEA Industry & Research Showcase sessions gave attendees the chance to hear about some of the latest research findings and other industry success stories. “We worked to create a conference program that offered something for everyone,” explains Dr. Kaylee South, Assistant Professor of Controlled Environment Agriculture, Virginia Tech. “It was rewarding to see how engaged our audience members were in the question and answer segments of all of our sessions.” Tabletop Exhibits & NetworkingIn addition to conference sessions, attendees had ample opportunities to visit with the Summit’s 17 tabletop exhibitors during coffee breaks, luncheon roundtables and an afternoon cocktail reception. CEA Innovation Center Tour The event wrapped up with group tours of the CEA Innovation Center. 60+ conference attendees took advantage of the unique opportunity to get an inside look at the CEA Innovation Center’s hydroponic and soilless systems/production systems and facilities, including indoor growth rooms, greenhouse, growth chambers and vertical growing racks. They also got to hear more about some of the Center’s exciting research projects. Look for more information coming soon on dates and details for the 2023 edition. In the meantime, industry members can also make plans to attend the 10th Annual Indoor Ag-Con, February 27-28, 2023 as it returns to Caesars Forum, Las Vegas to once again co-locate with the National Grocers Association (NGA) Show. CEA Summit is co-hosted by: CEA Summit East Partners ABOUT INDOOR AG-CONFounded in 2013, Indoor Ag-Con has emerged as the premier trade event for indoor | 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, Education, Greenhouse, Indoor Ag Technology, Technology, Vertical Farming]

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[l] at 10/26/22 8:01am
As the water moves though a nutrient film technique (NFT) production system it is near saturation with oxygen because of mechanical aeration that is occurring from the water recirculation. Photo courtesy of Hort Americas The oxygen level and temperature in the root zone can have a major impact on rate of plant growth and inhibiting root diseases. When it comes to hydroponic vegetable production the root zone environment, including oxygen levels and root temperature, play a critical role in the success of the crop. “For true hydroponics, which would include deep water culture and nutrient film technique (NFT), both have different oxygen profiles,” said Neil Mattson, greenhouse horticulture professor at Cornell University. “Typically with NFT, there is near saturation with oxygen because of mechanical aeration from the water recirculation that is occurring. The water that is pumped through an NFT system and is emitted by spaghetti tubing becomes essentially saturated with oxygen. This water is running across the plant roots continuously.” Deep water culture, which usually has a sizable water reservoir, has a large storage capacity for dissolved oxygen. “Deep water culture systems are less prone to temperature and pH swings,” Mattson said. “Growers looking to add oxygen to a deep water culture system have to actively add oxygen to make sure there is a sufficient level in the water. “Typically growers do one of two things to add oxygen. The first option is to install a Venturi pump to bubble in outside air into the water reservoir and then distribute the oxygen throughout the pond. Oxygen doesn’t diffuse well through water so a grower has to make sure not to place the pump in one location and not distribute the oxygen throughout the pond. A grower also has to install tubing and a manifold system so that the oxygen is distributed to numerous points throughout the pond. Smaller growers tend to use the Venturi system.” In addition to bubbling or pumping in air, growers with deep water culture systems can inject liquid oxygen or incorporate a nanobubble oxygen generation system. “The oxygen comes either from tanks of liquid oxygen or from an oxygen-generation system,” Mattson said. “Growers who choose these options would still need a pond distribution system. But instead of using a lot of pumping capacity to bubble in the air (about 21 percent oxygen), the air would be circulated with a pump.” Deep water culture production systems, which usually have a sizable water reservoir, have a large storage capacity for dissolved oxygen.Photo courtesy of Hort Americas Seasonal variations in oxygen levels Mattson said growers using deep water culture need to monitor the oxygen level with a dissolved oxygen meter. The oxygen level should be adjusted over time as the crop is growing. “Factors that affect the oxygen level in the water include the absorption of oxygen by the plant roots,” he said. “How quickly the oxygen is depleted depends on how quickly the plants are growing and the water temperature. “Other factors affecting the oxygen level include microbes and algae in the water that might be competing for the oxygen. There is also diffusion of some oxygen off the surface of the pond. It is a dynamic system and there is not a hard-and-fast rule for every square foot of pond water that a specific amount of oxygen has to be added.” Growers usually have to pay closer attention to the oxygen level during the summer because warmer water temperatures hold less oxygen. During the winter if the air temperature is cooler, the pond water temperature is going to track that way as well unless a grower heats, cools or adjusts the pond water temperature. “During the summer when the water temperature is warmer, because of its physical properties, water holds less dissolved oxygen,” Mattson said. “This is also the time of year when the plants are growing more quickly and the roots are respiring (consuming oxygen) more quickly.” Mattson said another issue growers may face is the impact of water temperature on disease infestation. “There are certain species of the root disease pathogen Pythium that proliferate more quickly under warmer temperatures,” he said. “Typically growers are more concerned about the spread of these pathogens during the summer with the warmer pond water temperatures. Chilling the pond water to keep the temperature between 68ºF-72ºF can help to deter these pathogens from proliferating quickly.” Paul Fisher, professor and extension specialist/ floriculture at the University of Florida, said the target oxygen level should be at saturation in the root zone in all parts of a hydroponic growing system. “A crop should be grown close to saturation (8-9 parts per million at 68ºF-72 ºF water temperature),” Fisher said. “As oxygen levels drop, especially down to 2-3 ppm, this is where Pythium infection is favored. Even with high-wire tomato and cucumber crops where the plants are being grown in rockwool or coir slabs, the substrate should not be allowed to become waterlogged. Pythium and Phytophthora are water molds that can infect plants at any point of the crop cycle. “Every hydroponic grower should have a dissolved oxygen meter. A tip for taking readings is to have the nutrient solution flowing over the meter to obtain a good stable reading.” At 68ºF, which is a typical root zone temperature, strawberry requires nearly double the amount of oxygen content as cucumber and about 40 percent more than the oxygen requirement of tomato. Photo courtesy of Chieri Kubota, Ohio St. Univ. Oxygen requirements for different crops Mattson said although some hydroponically-grown crops appear to be more sensitive to low oxygen in the root zone, there hasn’t been a lot of research to group plants according to their root zone oxygen requirements. “Strawberries and cannabis seem to be relatively sensitive to root diseases if there is a low oxygen level in the root zone,” he said. “This is in contrast to tomatoes, cucumbers and fresh cut roses, which are quite tolerant of low root oxygen levels. “Future research to determine target oxygen levels would help us understand why some crops are more sensitive than others to low oxygen levels and that could help long-term breeding efforts. Plants could be selected by breeders for hydroponic production because they are more tolerant of low root oxygen levels and less susceptible to disease pathogens.” Spinach varieties, in particular have been selected for root-disease resistance. Bowery Farming Inc., a commercial vertical farming company, has begun working with researchers at the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station to develop disease-resistant spinach for its proprietary indoor production systems. “Spinach is one of the crops that are very sensitive to Pythium root rot,” Mattson said. “By selecting varieties that are more resistant to Pythium, it might be possible to grow the plants with lower root oxygen levels.” Chieri Kubota, professor and director of Ohio Controlled Environment Agriculture Center (OHCEAC) at Ohio State University, is conducting extensive research studies with hydroponically-grown strawberries. “Strawberries require more oxygen in the root environment compared to other greenhouse vegetable crops,” Kubota said. “Indoor strawberry growers need to pay close attention to make sure the oxygen level is not depleted in the root zone.” Based on a study done in Japan with strawberry, the oxygen requirement per grams of root mass is higher for strawberry than other food crops. There is a significant difference in the oxygen requirement between hydroponic crops. “Comparing strawberry with cucumber and tomato at different temperatures, the oxygen level is crop specific,” Kubota said. “At 20ºC (68ºF), which is a typical root zone temperature, strawberry requires nearly double the amount of oxygen content than cucumber. It’s about 40 percent more than the oxygen requirement compared to tomato. More research needs to be done in regards to determining the target root zone oxygen requirements of other hydroponic crops like lettuce and cannabis.” Mattson said the oxygen requirements for a crop may change as the plant growth stage changes. “A more mature plant that is actively growing has an extensive root biomass that is going to have a larger oxygen requirement than a smaller younger plant,” he said. “With a deep water culture lettuce crop there is typically going to be all ranges of growth stages with young plants on one side of the pond and more mature plants on the other side. In that case, there is kind of an established equilibrium in regards to the plants’ average oxygen requirements. Regardless of the crop, if there is a large root system there is potentially more biomass that is going to be respiring at a higher rate so the plants’ oxygen needs are going to be greater.” Maintaining target temperatures One of the benefits of deep water culture systems is the large volume of water that is slow to change in regards to water temperature, pH and dissolved oxygen levels. If the water is at an optimum temperature, it is going to take a lot to change the temperature. “In a NFT system there is a lot of exposed surface area because of the shallow channels or troughs and water is continuously recirculating on these channels,” Mattson said. “There is a lot of surface area that is not well insulated compared to a deep water culture system, which is insulated and has a large volume of water. The deep water culture plants are also usually grown in a foam insulation board.” Chilling the nutrient solution in warmer climates like Florida can help to reduce heat stress and increase the dissolved oxygen level. Photo courtesy of Paul Fisher, Univ. of Fla. With a NFT system the water temperature is going to closely match the air temperature because of the exposed surface area. During the winter if the air is being heated to the desired air temperature, the water temperature is going to be comparable to the air temperature. “Floriculture crop studies in containers have shown if root-zone heating is used, a grower may be able to lower the greenhouse air temperature in order to conserve energy,” Mattson said. “Similarly growers who are using deep water culture can heat the water temperature to 72ºF and then maintain a cooler air temperature because the pond water is held at the desired temperature.” During the summer for deep water culture systems growers can use inline water chillers to lower the water temperature. This enables the water to hold more oxygen and reduce the chances of disease infestation. “With a NFT system trying to warm or cool the water temperature is not as practical,” Mattson said. “The heated or chilled water is exposed to a lot of surface area in a greenhouse. This is going to cause the water to lose heat relatively quickly in a cold greenhouse during the winter and warm up quickly on a hot summer day.” Fisher said root zone chilling is very important for greenhouse growers trying to use hydroponics in the summer in Florida. Chilling the nutrient solution can lower the temperature of the plant crown which can help to reduce heat stress and increase the dissolved oxygen level. University of Florida horticulture professor Germán Sandoya is doing breeding work on heat-tolerant lettuce varieties for both greenhouse and field production. Kubota said lowering the water temperature so the root zone temperature is around 20ºC (68ºF) helps when growing leafy greens. “For spinach, the root zone temperature should be even lower,” she said. “From a pathogen management standpoint, the recommendation is 15ºC (59ºF) for the root zone. But this could have a drawback of reducing the overall growth of the plants. “The root zone temperature is similar to the average 24-hour temperature. Growing at 18ºC (64.4ºF) at night and 24ºC (75ºF) during the day, the average temperature is around 22ºC-23ºC (71.6ºF-73.4 ºF) for long day conditions. For fruiting vegetables, the aerial temperature for fruiting is more important than the growing point temperature which is a long distance away from the root zone. This is probably why growers don’t try to control the root zone temperature with these crops.” The root zone temperature has an impact on the oxygen level. The oxygen saturation point declines with increasing temperature. “Water loses the capacity to hold oxygen as the temperature increases,” Kubota said “It is an unfavorable condition when the temperature increases because the respiration requirement increases also. The roots need more oxygen at higher temperatures. However, water loses the capacity to dissolve oxygen so it is easy to suffocate the roots at high temperatures.” For more: Neil Mattson, Cornell University, School of Integrative Plant Science, Horticulture Section, nsm47@cornell.edu; https://cea.cals.cornell.edu. Chieri Kubota, Ohio State University, Department of Horticulture and Crop Science; kubota.10@osu.edu; https://hcs.osu.edu/our-people/dr-chieri-kubota. Paul Fisher, University of Florida, Environmental Horticulture, pfisher@ufl.edu; https://hort.ifas.ufl.edu/faculty-profiles/paul-fisher/. 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, Education, Greenhouse, Greenhouse Technology, Hydroponics]

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[l] at 10/20/22 1:49pm
University of Florida Greenhouse Training Online courses  Irrigation Water Quality & Treatment starts November 12! Interpret water quality tests for irrigation of greenhouse and nursery crops, select appropriate water treatment technologies, and design a water treatment and monitoring system. Irrigation Water Quality & Treatment is the final course for 2022 of the award-winning Greenhouse Online Training offered by the University of Florida IFAS Extension. This advanced course is designed for experienced growers or technical managers. Lessons are offered in English and Spanish, and are taught by professors from six universities in the United States. The course runs from November 14 to December 16, 2022 (no classes over Thanksgiving week). The cost is US$249 per participant, with a 20% discount if you register five or more. All course material is completely online and available at any time of the day, and includes pre-recorded videos, an interactive discussion board with PhD professors, and quizzes. Two new modules are activated each week during the course, for a total of 8 learning modules. Instruction is at your own pace and time within the 4 weeks of the course, with a typical time commitment of about 6 hours per week. Click here to register (http://hort.ifas.ufl.edu/training/). Irrigation Water Quality & Treatment counts towards the new Plant Health Professional certification program launched in July 2022. This program is supported by University of Florida UF IFAS Extension (UF Greenhouse Training Online) and the Michigan State University Floriculture Program Extension (MSU Online College of Knowledge) for greenhouse clientele successfully completing several existing courses from the two programs. For more information, including discounts for registering multiple staff, email us at greenhousetraining@ifas.ufl.edu, or visit http://hort.ifas.ufl.edu/training/. Spanish translation is suported by a grant from the American Floral Endowment Irrigation Water Quality 2022 flyerDownload

[Category: Education, Events, Industry News, Courses, Greenhouse, Hydroponics, University of Florida, Vertical Farming]

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[l] at 10/17/22 4:12pm
Literature Review Shares Potential Efficiency Opportunities SACRAMENTO, Calif., October 14, 2022 – Dr. Greenhouse, Inc., a leading provider of state-of-the-art HVAC design and controls solutions for indoor grows, vertical farms and greenhouses, is pleased to announce the public availability of “Literature Review of Energy and Water Use in Controlled Environment Horticulture and Potential Efficiency Opportunities.” This literature review, a collaboration among Dr. Greenhouse, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) and 2050 Partners, aims to provide an overview of previously published works, specifically the current state of knowledge about the Controlled Environment Horticulture (CEH) industry and its energy and water use. In addition, this literature review identifies potential energy-saving measures for consideration in future California Energy Code cycles as they relate to greenhouses and indoor farms used to grow vegetables, ornamentals, cannabis, and other crops. “The Dr. Greenhouse team worked to identify and review literature across the CEH industry to present opportunities for higher energy and resource efficiency and improved crop quality and yield,” notes Dr. Nadia Sabeh. “It is rare – but tremendously valuable – to have the opportunity to do this kind of focused survey of existing research and the state of the industry.  This study will help to ensure that future energy research investments address remaining knowledge gaps and data needs to support energy code development and technological advances in the CEH market.” Developed for greenhouses and indoor plant environments without sunlight, the key findings of the literature review include: 1.     Best management practices are not well-established, especially for new crops and indoor farms without sunlight. 2.     A lack of energy use data collected from operating CEH facilities limits the development of effective computer models for estimating and predicting current and future energy use. 3.     Energy codes and standards across California and the U.S. are varied and inconsistent. 4.     CEH facilities do not disclose HVAC energy and dehumidification performance metrics, limiting evaluation of product energy use effectiveness. 5.     Energy-savings opportunities exist for lighting, envelope, HVAC, irrigation, and controls, with new opportunities needing additional investigation. Dr. Sabeh concludes that the goals of the literature review can be far-reaching, “As an emerging industry with rapidly advancing technologies and operational practices, the entire CEH industry benefits from the sharing of what works best for indoor crop production.” The Project Sponsor is Andrew Doeschot (andrew.doeschot@pge.com) of PG&E. The Project Manager is Coleman Stivers of 2050 Partners. The Primary Authors are Nadia Sabeh, Derrick Ross, Lydia Miner, and Sam Everett of Dr. Greenhouse, Inc., with additional contributions from Steffi Becking and Garth Torvestad of 2050 Partners. Please contact Andrew Doeschot (andrew.doeschot@pge.com) for more information on this project.  About Dr. Greenhouse, Inc. Dr. Greenhouse, Inc. is a Sacramento-based agriculture and mechanical engineering design firm providing state-of-the-art HVAC design and controls solutions for indoor grows. The firm is led by Dr. Nadia Sabeh, a recognized subject matter expert in controlled environment agriculture (CEA). Dr. Greenhouse helps farmers efficiently control their environments, allowing them to produce high-quality crops within indoor grows, vertical farms and greenhouses. Dr. Greenhouse has provided expert early-stage programming and mechanical design for 150 facilities worldwide.

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

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[l] at 10/14/22 6:23am
During the International Meeting on Controlled Environment Technology and Use, Chris Higgins (left), president at Hort Americas, moderated a panel discussion on Indoor Agriculture Economic Viability. Photo courtesy of Hort Americas The International Meeting on Controlled Environment Technology and Use gave representatives from academia and the CEA industry an opportunity to discuss the advancements and challenges facing researchers and growers. After a two-year hiatus because of the pandemic the 6th International Meeting on Controlled Environment Technology and Use was held in September in Tucson, Ariz. Hosted by the University of Arizona, the meeting was organized by North Central Extension & Research Activity–101 (NCERA-101) in collaboration with UK Controlled Environment Users’ Group (UK-CEUG) and Australasian Controlled Environment Working Group (ACEWG). NCERA-101 is a USDA committee organized to assist plant scientists understand how to use controlled environment technology effectively and consistently. “It was exciting for the University of Arizona to welcome and host our colleagues at this industry event,” said Murat Kacira, past chair of NCERA-101 committee and director of the Controlled Environment Agriculture Center at the University of Arizona. “The international meeting brought together 215 participants from 12 countries and five continents for three days. For the NCERA annual meetings there is usually about 100-120 participants. Murat Kacira, past chair of NCERA-101 committee and director of the Controlled Environment Agriculture Center at the University of Arizona, along with the university hosted 215 participants at the 6th International Meeting on Controlled Environment Technology and Use.Photo by Rosemary Brandt, College of Ag Life Sciences “Every four years NCERA host’s an international meeting which includes our international members or collaborating working groups from the U.K., Australia and Canada. We also now have collaborations from Mexico. The international meetings have been rotating mainly between the U.S., U.K. and Australia. We now have some industry representatives and colleagues in Mexico who will be hosting the next international meeting there in 2025.” Although NCERA has not had an official collaboration membership from Japan or South Korea, Murat said this has been discussed and there is an opportunity to extend the collaborations with NCERA’s Asian colleagues as well. “I believe we will have that in place for upcoming years as part of our international collaborations for the meetings,” he said. “In regards to inviting speakers from those countries, that will definitely happen.” Technology’s relationship with energy, labor efficiency The international meeting hosted 20 speakers, two keynote speakers as part of the technical program and three panel discussions on indoor agriculture. “This was a great opportunity for attendees to hear from not only researchers, but also those who are practicing in real world settings from commercial companies,” Murat said. “Speakers included industry participants, consultants, start-up companies and those who have been in the business for a long time, including company CEOs and CSOs. We also had students, our young minds, who participated. “There were discussions about research with implications to commercial settings. There were also presentations by representatives from companies discussing what is applicable, what is practical and what can be incorporated into commercial operations. For example, Marc van Iersel at the University of Georgia talked about optimizing light efficiency in controlled environments from plant physiology to engineering. He presented direct applications currently happening in commercial settings. Another presentation from Jeff Jia at Heliospectra discussed from science to commercial applications focusing on light use efficiency.” Peter Ling, associate professor at Ohio State University, discussed the emerging sensing techniques for controlled environment plant production during the International Meeting on Controlled Environment Technology and Use.Photo courtesy of the Controlled Environment Agriculture Center, Univ. of Ariz. Murat said some of the heavily emphasized topics were the optimal use of energy, energy costs and labor costs. “This included what are the technologies, what are the techniques, what are the approaches to consider to better manage resources such as electrical energy as well to address the challenges with labor through automation and environmental control applications,” he said. “Another subject that was emphasized was related to benchmarking. What is the terminology that should be used towards benchmarking sustainability and optimizing resource-use efficiency? There is a need towards defining benchmarking and terminology related to sustainability. “There was also a discussion about data sharing. Where is the data coming from? What is the quality of that data? And how is this data helping to better implement technologies in commercial settings.” The relationship between light and plant physiology Murat said a primary focus of the lighting sessions was on the relationship between light and plant physiology. “Topics discussed included what are the variables that significantly impact the physiological characteristics of plants,” he said. “What factors does attention need to be paid to and how can those factors be controlled in order to manage the quality and yield in controlled environments production? What are the requirements for quality and yield when it comes to controlled environments? “This starts with defining a plant’s physiological requirements and then identifying the strategies or techniques around light intensity, quality, as well as other significant variables. Light interacts with other variables, it does not stand alone. When light intensity and quality are changed that triggers other environmental variables as well. These variables are connected so how can they be better used?” Quality may mean different things to researchers and between different commercial operations. “Quality measures or attributes for the industry vs. the quality measures for a grower can be quite different,” Murat said. “How can technology be used to achieve these quality attributes not only from an industry perspective, but also from a community-desired perspective? And how does achieving this quality relate to economics? How do growers manage the economics and cost factors to target, achieve and maintain these quality attributes?” Attendees at the International Meeting on Controlled Environment Technology and Use had the opportunity to tour the vertical farm research facility at the University of Arizona’s Controlled Environment Agriculture Center.Photo courtesy of Rosemary Brandt, College of Ag and Life Sciences, and the Controlled Environment Agriculture Center, Univ. of Ariz. Future collaborations Murat was particularly excited about the number of students who participated in the meeting “There was great participation from graduate students, both from U.S. institutions and internationally,” he said. “They asked questions and participated in speaker session discussions. There was also a segment during the poster session when they were able to discuss their own research projects.” On the final day of the meeting during the tours of the University of Arizona’s Controlled Environment Agriculture Center the university’s graduate students were the tour leaders giving them the opportunity to present detailed information about their own research activities. “Also, during the meeting, opportunities were discussed and collaborations were formed,” Murat said “These collaborations were between academia and industry members as well as academia and academia, and industry and industry. These will help us to move innovation and technology forward. “During future meetings we will have more opportunity to talk about and fine tune what is benchmarking and what are its requirements. Also, we will be able determine what sustainability measures and terminologies need to be considered. Another topic that was emphasized was how does the industry and academia continue to keep educating the next generation of controlled environment researchers, industry-related employees and commercial growers.” For more: Murat Kacira, University of Arizona, Biosystems Engineering Department; mkacira@arizona.edu; http://ceac.arizona.edu/. This article is property of Urban Ag News and was written by David Kuack, a freelance technical writer in Fort Worth, Texas.

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

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[l] at 10/11/22 12:16pm
DALLAS and COLUMBUS, Ohio — Oct. 11, 2022 —When The Ohio State University opened its new Controlled Environment Agriculture Complex (CEARC) on Friday, Sept. 30, it represented a culmination of efforts between the school and industry. Companies such as Nationwide Insurance, Current (formerly GE Current), Priva and General Hydroponics (to name a few) made donations of both money and product. Current provided LED grow lighting for the four chambers that will be used to grow vine crops, berries and leafy greens at the CEARC, while Hort Americas handled the lighting layout, design and planning. The 48,989-square-foot CEARC will provide a platform for interdisciplinary research at the nexus of horticulture, engineering, entomology, pathology, food science, computer science and human nutrition/health. “This is an important project for the industry because of the cutting-edge research, teaching and job training that will be conducted at this facility,” said Chris Higgins, Hort Americas president and co-founder. “We’re also excited because this is a way to prepare students to enter directly into the commercial horticulture workforce.” CEARC researchers will explore new methods for improving nutrient density and flavor in vegetables and fruits, as well as optimizing harvesting and controlling insects and pests. In addition, clinical studies will be done to examine the efficacy of enhanced nutritional value in the human diet.  In appreciation for Current’s support, the CEARC’s lobby is named the Arize Lobby. Arize is Current’s world-class LED lighting brand. About Current At Current, we are Always On and working to improve lives with the industrys most expansive portfolio of sustainable advanced lighting and intelligent controls that reliably meet our customers needs. Learn more at CurrentLighting.com. About Hort Americas Hort 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 www.hortamericas.com.

[Category: Education, Events, Industry News, Greenhouse, Greenhouse Technology, Hort Americas, LED Grow Lights, Technology]

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[l] at 10/3/22 8:10am
Indoor Farm Automation: Lessons learned from the Autonomous Greenhouse Challengesby Dr. Ken Tran (Koidra Inc.) This presentation Indoor Farm Automation: Lessons learned from the Autonomous Greenhouse Challenges’ was given by Dr. Ken Tran (Koidra Inc.) during our 44th café forum on September 20th, 2022. Indoor Ag Science Café is organized by the OptimIA project team funded by USDA SCRI grant

[Category: Industry News, Indoor Ag Sci Cafe, Indoor Ag Technology, Indoor Farming, Technology]

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[l] at 9/29/22 6:27am
DALLAS and MONTREAL — Commercial horticultural supplier Hort Americas announced today a new division within the company to bring quality, technically advanced and cost-effective products to commercial greenhouse growers in Canada. Just like its U.S. counterpart, Hort Americas Canada will have a strong focus on providing the best-in-class products, educating growers and continuing to research advancements in controlled environment agriculture. The team will also continue working with vendors to bring locally manufactured products to Canadian growers. “The greenhouse industry is rapidly evolving and expanding in Canada,” said Jordan Goulet, general manager  at Hort Americas Canada. “We understand that established and new generations of growers are looking for reliable and knowledgeable partners to support them with their projects, and that’s what we’re here to help do.” Goulet and Gabrielle Verdon, client services manager, will oversee operations for Hort Americas Canada. The bilingual team has extensive expertise in all aspects of controlled environment agriculture. The first Hort Americas Canada office will soon open in Montreal. Plans are also underway to add a warehouse. “We greatly appreciate all the support we received the last 15 years from our Canadian clients,” added Chris Higgins, Hort Americas president and co-founder. “Expanding our operations is a way to make it easier for them to do business with us.”  About Hort Americas Hort 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 www.hortamericas.com.

[Category: Industry News]

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[l] at 9/28/22 7:58am
Earn CEUs with courses offered at University of Florida Weed Management An intermediate level course that teaches all aspects of weed management in nurseries and greenhouses, including weed identification, developing herbicide programs, and the latest non-chemical methods of weed control that work. Rated 4.4 out of 5 by grower participants. Hydroponic Vegetable Production An intermediate level course where you will learn to manage different hydroponics systems, as well as the fundamentals of climate, water, nutrition, and plant health in these systems. The course also teaches business management and food safety. Rated 4.4 out of 5 by grower participants. Weed Management runs from October 17 to November 11, 2022 and has been approved for CEUs in the state of Florida. It counts towards the new Plant Health Professional certification and is taught by Dr. Chris Marble, Associate Professor of ornamental and landscape weed management at the University of Florida. Growers in the course have described him as “very methodical and easy to learn from” who presents “very practical information that can be applied to a huge range of growing situations.” Hydroponic Vegetable Production runs from October 17 to November 11, 2022. The team of instructors is led by Bob Hochmuth and Dr. Tatiana Sanchez-Jones at UF/IFAS. Past participants have liked “how the course has stimulating content that walked me through all aspects of hydroponics” and described instructors as “attentive, responsive, and enthusiastic”. Each course costs US$249 per participant, with a 20% discount if you register 5 or more. All course material is completely online and available at any time of the day, and include pre-recorded videos, an interactive discussion board with PhD professors, and quizzes. Course material is available in English and in Spanish, and two new modules are activated each week during each course, for a total of 8 learning modules. Click here to register (http://hort.ifas.ufl.edu/training/) and for more information. Or email us at greenhousetraining@ifas.ufl.edu. G-HydroponicVegetableProduction2022Download F-WeedManagement2022Download

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

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First feed in category: Western Farm Press