Posts By Nicola Kerslake
One of the most tech-savvy areas of the sustainable agriculture revolution is indoor agriculture – growing in warehouses, containers and greenhouses using hydroponic, aquaponic and aeroponic systems. The industry has seen a wave of new technology commercialized of late, here’s some of the coolest:
The cynical view of the LED lighting that many indoor farms use to encourage plant growth is that it’s too expensive to buy and run, and too tricky to adjust the lighting to your plants’ needs. Yet, LED prices are forecast to halve by 2020, according to market research firm Lux Research, and tech geeks are now making lights cheaper and easier to run.
DOWNLOAD (.pdf) 5 Reasons the Future of Agriculture is Indoors Infographic
To find out more, attend the 2nd Annual Indoor Agriculture Conference at Springs Preserve, Las Vegas, NV, May 14-15, 2014. Find out more at indoor.ag.
“We don’t farm, we don’t run CSAs, and we don’t manage community gardens,” says Green Chips executive director Rick VanDiepen. “But we offer data that supports and encourages all of these activities.”
The four-year-old organization grew from informal brainstorming sessions between Las Vegas casino sustainability executives. The group eventually sought out specific projects to devote their collective energy to, and Green Chips was born. The organization views itself as a public-private partnership with funding from public and private entities, such as the City of Las Vegas, local casinos and utilities. Its board includes representatives from public television, the visitor’s authority and local nonprofits.
Rhonda Killough’s path to sustainable agriculture was an unusual one. While pursuing a career in performing arts in Las Vegas, her life was abruptly stalled by a motorbike accident in 2002.
“I was physically broken, I couldn’t move very much so I mostly listened to NPR,” she recalls. Two news reports in particular caught her ear. One described Las Vegas as the most wasteful city in the country, and the second outlined the impact of a lack of fresh produce on the incidence of diabetes in underprivileged communities.
As part of her recovery, Killough started taking brief walks around her neighborhood and got chatting with the groundskeeper at a neighbor’s large home.
Sanjay Rajpoot, founder of hydroponic nutrient control system firm Sustainable Microfarms, was an early starter when it came to sustainable agriculture. Fascinated by Singaporean rooftop gardens at an age when most of his peers were more interested in X-Boxes, Rajpoot began researching his business at the age of 16, and was spending time with greenhouse automation expert Dr. Heiner Lieth at his UC Davis lab by the age of 19.
“One of my mentors growing up is an embedded systems researcher, so I was fascinated by the idea of creating better, cheaper controls for hydroponic systems,” says Rajpoot.