Tag: hydroponics

Dr. Scott Lowman CEA Innovation Center

Q&A With CEA Innovation Center Director Dr. Scott Lowman

‘A Catalyst and Hub for CEA Companies and Technology’

 

CEA Innovation Center.IALRWe recently announced the new partnership between Indoor Ag-Con and the Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) Innovation Center – a joint project of the School of Plant and Environmental Sciences at Virginia Tech and the Institute for Advanced Learning And Research (IALR) –to launch the CEA Summit East from October25-26, 2022.

The CEA Innovation Center is an incredible resource for our industry. We had the chance to catch up with Dr. Scott Lowman, the Center’s Director, to learn more about the exciting research projects he and his team are working on; the benefits of hosting the new Summit at this research facility; and other ways the Center is serving CEA industry members.

Tell us a little about the Controlled Environment Agriculture Innovation Center and its primary goals

The Virginia Tech-IALR Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) Innovation Center was created to leverage the resources of the School of Plant and Environmental Sciences at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Virginia Tech along with the biotechnology, technology, and analytical chemistry capabilities of IALR to move the CEA field forward. The Center offers a one-stop shop for many cutting-edge research projects and is a wonderful vehicle to support and attract industry partners. Part of the initiative is to also serve as a catalyst and hub for CEA companies and technology, and we are already helping to create an ecosystem around CEA innovation with some leading-edge projects in waste recycling, nutrient management, imaging and data analysis, and biotechnology. All of this will be facilitated by the CEA Summit East on October 25-26.

 

Can you share any highlights of some of the research projects you and your team are currently working on

CEA Innovation Center.IALR2We have lots of exciting research projects happening at the moment, both internally to fuel innovation, as well as contract research to support and help solve industry challenges. There are a couple I can mention.

One project focuses on biostimulant use to increase yield in hydroponic systems. This project, supported by a Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Specialty Crop Grant, focuses on using bacterial endophytes, or beneficial bacteria that live inside of plants, that have proven to promote plant growth naturally in the lab and in vertical systems. Our initial data indicate exciting potential!

Another project is focused on using imaging and robotics to monitor plant growth and health. Using our in-house developed SMART tables, we are able to pinpoint tiny changes in plant growth and health during cultivation. One experiment can generate 80,000 images!

 

The partnership with Indoor Ag-Con to host the newly announced CEA Summit East is one example of how you’re serving the region’s growers and CEA industry members. What differentiates this new event from other CEA conferences?

IALR Campus bird's eye viewWhen we launched the Center, one of the many opportunities we were excited about was our ability to leverage our state-of-the-art conferencing center here at IALR to bring industry and academia together through hosting conferences and workshops focusing on CEA. With the CEA industry growing in Virginia, the location of the Summit is near the stakeholders that the Center is striving to serve.

Additionally, it is very unique in that the conference will be held in a research facility. This is certainly a break from typical conferences based from hotel conference centers. Attendees can see firsthand our cutting-edge research projects happening now, as well as explore ideas for collaborations with our VT and IALR researchers on-site.

What’s next for the CEA Innovation Center

CEA Innovation CenterThe CEA Innovation Center is growing rapidly, and we are always on the lookout for mutually beneficial partnerships in research and education, including contract research opportunities.

The biggest endeavor on the horizon, however, is most certainly the CEA Summit East! While lots of research is going on behind the scenes, we are thrilled about partnering with Indoor Ag-Con to bring together both academia and industry for a first-class event here in Danville, Virginia.

Learn more about the CEA Summit here and make plans now to join us!

FarmBabyz

New farm babyZ Program Cultivates Growers As Young as 2 Years Old

“farm babyZ is causing a groundswell by developing our next generation of sustainable urban growers,” says farm babyZ Founder Recie Robertson.  “We want to make hydroponic indoor growing available for all.”

Farm Babyz 2farm babyZ LLC, a STEM.org Reviewed ™ organization, has created and packaged an educational hydroponic growers curriculum and American-made merchandise/grow kit for early childhood development agencies and other educators working with children between the ages of two to five years old.

As outlined in its mission statement, “The farm babyZ LLC pre-STEM program is committed to developing an academic understanding of science and agricultural development.  To achieve this goal, we support student learning by offering a concise and elementary program designed to help all preschoolers meet the Stem academic standards.”

Farm Babyz3

 

 

“We created farm babyZ with food deserts in mind,” explains Robertson.  “In these areas, we’re trying to help change unhealthy eating habits brought on by land restrictions for growing everything from fruits to vegetables.  By building a community through educating  our youths and connecting people around life-giving plants  –from 2-5 years old – on up to the 92+age shut-in population – we hope to reap countless therapeutic benefits from family bonding, to mentor relationships and facilitate cross generational interaction.”

For more information on farm babyZ, contact Recie Robertson at 313.737.8115 or recie@ONE5Consulting.com 

 

Aphids Eliminated With Organic Nanotechnology in PureCrop1, U.C. Study Shows

As an all-in-one agricultural formula, Indoor Ag-Con Exhibitor PureCrop1 is revolutionizing the agriculture industry with nanotechnology and clean colloidal chemistries. Made from seven plant-based, organic ingredients, PureCrop1 efficiently eliminates sap-sucking pests, molds, & mildews, boosts plant health, and more effectively delivers nutrients than water alone.

The Pure Results

A U.C. Davis study solidified PureCrop1 as an effective control for aphids when they concluded the results of the organic formula against four common aphids.

After performing the study, Brook C. Murphy, Ph.D., U.C. Davis entomologist, stated, “Overall, the results of these evaluations provide encouraging evidence that PureCrop1 could be developed into an effective, reliable and easy-to-use commercial insecticide against aphid pests.”

A single application of PureCrop1 at a low rate of 0.66% v/v sufficiently eliminated all aphids from the plants in 24 to 36 hours. The tests also revealed that the organic formula is effective under a broad range of conditions in home and commercial applications as a pest control tool and proved easy to mix with no visible residue left behind.

The nanotechnology-derived solution controls aphids and other sap-sucking insects in all plant environments, including greenhouses, hydroponics, and indoor gardens. It can eliminate all types of aphids, including the ants that tend them, the honeydew they excrete, and the mold caused by the honeydew.

PureCrop1 also takes pride in being friendly to the environment, kids, pets, & even beneficial insects. The proprietary, science-driven formulation process delivering clean, sustainable, yet potent results is what distinguishes PureCrop1 from any other product on the market, making it a true trailblazer for the future of agriculture.

Find out more by visiting PureCrop1 at booth 4002 during Indoor Ag-Con or visit www.purecrop1.com

Talking Funding & Form Factors With Sensei Ag CEO Sonia Lo

Sensei_ag_Sonia-Lo CEO Indoor Ag-Con KeynoteSensei Ag CEO Sonia Lo will lead the Indoor Ag-Con keynote presentation, “Improving Human Wellness One Farm At A Time,” on Monday, October 4, 2021 from 11:30 am – 12:20 pm. A headliner event at the October 4-5, 2021 edition  at the Hilton Orlando,  Lo’s  discussion will focus on Sensei Ag’s form factor agnostic approach to building and expanding indoor farms.

Tapped to head Sensei Ag in 2020, Sonia brings more than 32 years of combined agriculture, technology and business experience to her leadership role.  Ahead of her October keynote, we had the chance to talk to Sonia about her company’s mission, funding insights, thoughts on how we value our industry and more.

Sonia, please share with our audience some of your insights into funding in the controlled environment agriculture industry. You’ve stated in the past that venture capital funding alone is not enough to win the day as it relates to indoor vertical farming. Rather, you’ve posited that when/if large, commercial farms are in some way “tied” to the energy grid, municipal bonds would come into play as a viable funding vehicle for these new operations. Can you elaborate on that further?

Venture capital is indeed an important source of funding for the economy, and I am by no means downplaying the role of the VC investor. I myself have run my own investment fund which has invested over $150 million in growth stage companies. Nevertheless, we often see venture capital looking to invest in companies that:Sensei Ag Lanai Farm

1) Are already well on their way to becoming profitable

2) Have very sophisticated fundraising teams or

3) Have deep relationships already in place with the venture or private equity communities.

Smaller, developing indoor farming companies as well as large commercial farms are less likely to have these connections than say a traditional tech company. It would be more likely that they would be candidates for municipal bonds or green bonds that would be accompanied by much lower interest rates and not tied to earn outs and profitability but instead to the greater good of society.

This brings me to the concept then of how do we value our industry? If we can’t properly value indoor agriculture, then neither banks nor venture capital will be able to provide adequate funding to spur our growth. You may have heard me say this in prior publications, but my true hope is that by developing a collective body of knowledge on indoor growing, financial institutions, public and private, will be able to risk asses our businesses, value them long term and provide the necessary funding to spur growth, technology and innovation for our industry. At Sensei Ag, we are positioning ourselves to be one of the key aggregators and generators of such data, moving our industry forward for all who are looking to make a difference in the ability to feed our growing global population healthy, nutritious food.

Sensei Ag has stated being a “form factor agnostic” grower is the goal. When you look to the mix of greenhouse, indoor farm, open field and any other growing environment, tell us how varied grow form factors and crop mixes (leafy greens and fruiting crops) will provide variety and diversity among Sensei Ag’s offerings to your customers?

Sensei Ag FarmBeing form factor agnostic is core to Sensei Ag’s business model and growth plan. We are indoor growers – not just greenhouse growers, not just vertical farm growers. With that said, it’s not just about the types of leafy greens and other produce we will be able to grow using different form factors, but also the ability to venture into new regions of the globe, areas that were traditionally considered food deserts but through one form factor or another can now become food oases.

At our greenhouses on Lana’i, we currently grow hydroponically and produce a variety of exceptional leafy greens, peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, herbs and other delicious produce. We are regularly trying out new varieties of cultivars and look forward to introducing even more delicious produce to Hawaii.

This is now the second indoor agriculture company for which you are serving in the important role of CEO. What attracted you to join Sensei Ag and to the company’s overall mission?

When I began by career over thirty years ago with a Stanford degree in political science and math, agriculture was definitely not where I imaginedSensei Ag Farm Hawaii myself down the line. That said, after spending the majority of my career in finance and tech, I can truly say that I am the happiest growing local, nutritious food for others. I joined Sensei Ag last April for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to spearhead a company developing science focused on human wellness from food and agriculture systems. As CEO, I am very honored to lead an exceptionally talented team of professionals who together share one vision and that is to increase adoption of indoor agricultural production globally.

Of course complicating this all was no doubt joining a company right in the heart of a global pandemic. Much of our team, with the exception of our farming team on Lana’i, spent the past year working over Zoom. We are only now finally getting a chance to collaborate and spend time in person – and of course seeing more than the top halves of our bodies!

Sensei Ag Lanai FarmNevertheless, the journey thus far has been incredible. I’ve never been known to take the straight and narrow path. Ask anyone about the twisted, curvy roads on Lana’i. Yet, in my mind, there’s never been a more crucial time in our world’s history to address global food insecurity, to encourage and develop new means of promoting health and wellness and to heal and nourish our planet. I look forward to the adventure that lies ahead.

Learn more about Sensei Ag and make plans to hear Sonia Lo live at Indoor Ag-Con, October 4-5, 2021!

Dophin Pumps Upgrades Pump Seals

Indoor Ag-Con 2021 exhibitor Dolphin Pumps reports that as of March 2020, it  has upgraded their pump seals.Indoor Ag-Con Exhibitor Dolphin Pumps 2021

Dolphin Pumps are custom designed and engineered to outperform and outlast other pumps on the market. Their saltwater seals are recommended for all salt water, reef and mineral containing systems, as well as systems containing harsh additives since these environments are considered abrasive.

The saltwater seals are made with high grade stainless steel AISI 316 which includes an additive to help fight off corrosion.

The harder seal faces combined with the stainless steel 316 is most desirable for applications where salt/mineral exposure is a given, providing extra years of life and usage.

For freshwater use, our seal materials and surfaces are designed to provide a much longer service life than typical generic carbon faced freshwater seals.

Dolphin Pumps are designed to handle the toughest environments with the reliability of a magnetic drive pump MINUS all the drawbacks, such as heat transfer, noise, and energy consumption.

Learn more at www.dolphinpumps.com

HortAmericas Short Course Online | Vertical Farming Systems – November 21, 2020

HortAmericas invites you to learn all the important aspects of growing plants in its upcoming short course,  VERTICAL FARMING SYSTEMS,  on November 21, 2020. From hydroponic growing system selection, use of artificial lighting to environmental control of all key variables in vertical farming systems. This is your time to master the use of artificial lighting!

Instructor: M.S. Karla Garcia

– Hort Americas Technical Service
– Master in Plant Sciences from The University of Arizona
– Recognition by ISHS in strawberry hydroponic research
– Editor: Book Roadmap to Growing Leafy Greens and Herbs
– CEO at Microgreens FLN

Saturday, November 21, 2020
Schedule: 10:00 AM TO 12:00 PM (Central Time)
Platform: ZOOM US
Price: $50 US

Once you have registered, HortAmericas will make contact to provide access to our LIVE session!

Course Content includes:
  • Plant factory: Advantages in yield and production
  • Hydroponics in vertical farming systems
    a) NFT
    b) DFT
    c) Ebb and flow
  • Leafy greens production (Lettuce, herbs, microgreens)
  • Understanding artificial lighting
    a) Light quality
    b) Light quantity
    c) Light calculations for vertical farming systems
  • Environmental control in plant factory
    a) Air flow
    b) Gas exchange
    c) Temperature
    d) Humidity
  • Advice in sales and product selection

Questions? send us an email at technicalservice@hortamericas.com if you have any further questions!