Five Not to Miss Sessions at the 6th Annual Indoor Ag-Con

We’re just a little over a week away from the 6th Annual Indoor Ag Con, May 2nd and 3rd in Las Vegas. During this two-day event, we will highlight the biggest trends and newest technologies within the global indoor agriculture industry. The conference will cover many different types of crops including produce, legal cannabis, insects, algae and other non-food crops. In addition to trends and technologies, the conference will also showcase industry-changing ideas presented by the most innovative people in the business. Here are a select few topics and highlights to make sure you don’t miss!

#5 – AI & Machine Learning for Indoor Farms

Management consultant McKinsey Global Institute estimates that 25-50% of farms will adopt precision farming[1], and in doing so will increase crop yields by 10-20%[2]. Artificial intelligence and automation can improve many areas for farmers, including plant spacing and seeding, plant management, water & energy management, grafting, harvesting, cleaning and packaging. How is the technology evolving and what is coming next? What can you do to transform your farming operation?

Make sure to catch the session: How is AI and Machine Learning Impacting Control Systems? Speakers include Darryn Keiller of Autogrow, Jan Westra of Priva and John Proven of Argus Control Systems, A Conviron Company.

#4 – Hiring For Indoor Farms

From a working environment, indoor farms offer a much different working experience for farmers than traditional farms. In addition to climate control, they offer other advantages such as little to no use of pesticides and less bending and stooping to harvest crops. In addition, as a farm owner, you have the advantage and opportunity to hire a full-time workforce, instead of seasonal labor. With all of these advantages, how do you attract the right workforce? Is traditional hiring the right method? How do you stand out to the talent pool from traditional farms?

What if there were completely new ways to go about hiring? At Indoor Ag Con, you can hear about the new approach to hiring that Square Roots takes. What exactly is their Resident Entrepreneurs program and how has it changed the industry? You will also hear how Vertical Harvest, a multi-story vertical greenhouse in Downtown Jackson, WY has incorporated providing employment for people with intellectual and physical disabilities within their community.

Want to hear more? Make sure to catch the session: How Should We Go About Hiring for Our Indoor Farm?. Speakers include Tobias Peggs, CEO of Square Roots and Nona Yehia, CEO of Vertical Harvest.

#3 – Plant Genomics

Sophisticated indoor farmers, along with their allies in the seed and genomics industries, are increasingly turning their attention to how they can better use plant genomics in indoor systems, providing higher yields of tastier and more nutritious vegetables and more reliable and beneficial cannabis strains, as well as to miniaturize crops to better fit indoor systems.  How can you use plant genomics to treat your harvest, ultimately resulting in higher yields with improved characteristics?

Want to hear more? Make sure to catch the session: What Role Can Plant Genomics Play in Indoor Agriculture? Speakers include Dr. Trevor Charles, CSO of Metagenom Bio Inc., Jessica Kristof, VP of Research at Phylos Bioscience and Brian Gilman, VP of Business Development for Benson HJill Biosystems.

#2 – Better Food for Corporate Farms at Microsoft

Microsoft is taking an innovative approach to its campus food supply. Their on-site hydroponic farming, has the capacity to grow all the lettuce used by one café (more than 14,000 pounds annually) and all of the microgreens campus-wide.[3] Using cameras, Microsoft Azure and PowerBI, they are able to predict when the harvest is ready to pick for peak nutrient value[4]. They are also using data on weather, traffic patterns and food orders to predict with 90% accuracy how much food people will eat in the café to reduce food waste. How can other large operations take what Microsoft has done and apply it to what they are doing?

Find out by catching the session: How Can Indoor Agriculture be Incorporated into Large Catering Operations featuring Mark Freeman, Senior Manager of Global Dining Services for Microsoft.

#1 – Tracking & Tracing Your Crops

Food recalls are making headlines again. An E. coli contamination of Romaine lettuce has sickened people across the country, even leading to lawsuits for places like Panera Bread. According to a recent report, April 17th on ConsumerReports.com, “Consumer Reports’ experts believe, however, that it could be difficult for consumers to determine where the romaine they purchase is from, which is why they believe it’s best to avoid the lettuce altogether.” They continue, “It is unrealistic to expect consumers to figure out whether their romaine was produced in Arizona or somewhere else, especially when eating in a restaurant. The FDA should just advise consumers to avoid romaine lettuce until further notice.”

As a farmer, it is a nightmare scenario. You have put all of your time, money and energy into growing and harvesting crops and then stores recall the product. In this scenario, proving your supply was not part of a contaminated crop – and was instead grown in a clean indoor farm environment – could give you a major competitive advantage.  Given this, we’re delighted to be including two food safety professionals – Alfredo Villicana-Bedolla of Mission Produce and Sarah Taber of Boto Waterworks- in our speaker lineup.

Want to hear more?

Make sure to catch the session: What Are the Newest Technologies for Tracking and Testing? This session features Lori Glauser, Co-Founder and Chief Operations Officer and Director of EVIO Labs and Alfredo Villicana-Bedolla, Food Safety Manager of Mission Produce.

Don’t miss the 6th Annual Indoor Ag Con May 2nd and 3rd at the Las Vegas Convention Center. You can find the complete speaking agenda here. Want to attend? You can register here. Want to join our amazing variety of exhibitors? You can register to exhibit here.

Join Us at the 6th Annual Indoor Ag-Con on May 2-3, 2018

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[1] Defined as an information and technology based method of farm management

[2] Defined as consumer surplus

[3] FE&S Magazine, April 3, 2017

[4] King5.com July 18, 2017