Posts By Deanna Krinn
‘Connected Agriculture,’ the title of a recent report by Vodafone and Accenture seeks to highlight the growing importance of farmers’ access to mobile communication in isolated areas of some of the world’s poorest countries.
The report found that making mobile data services such as weather forecasts, commodity market information and mobile banking available to farmers in the developing world could potentially increase world farmers’ wages by an additional $138 billion by 2020. Such technology is especially important to farmers in these areas as they often lack the tools necessary to obtain accurate weather information for planting and harvesting, do not have access to information that would enable them to keep up-to-date with the most recent farming techniques, and are often confronted with the challenge of having to traveling to and from larger urban areas in order to complete simple banking transactions like obtaining micro-loans.
‘Start Farming,’ a program that seeks to develop new farmers, was developed by Penn State Extension in 2009 to address the the rising average age of farmers in Pennsylvania as well as the increasing demand for local and sustainably produced food.
The program offers a variety of courses throughout the year to beginning farmers interested in learning organic farming techniques, pasture management, financial management, land acquisition and marketing. The Penn State Extension program, ‘Start Farming’, is run in collaboration with Pennsylvania Farm Link, a nonprofit dedicated to the mission of “creating farming opportunities for the next generation,” and The Seed Farm, an agricultural business incubator in Lehigh County, PA.
Startup Profile: Indoor Farming Company Seeks to Harness Light and Revitalize Impoverished Urban AreasOctober 3, 2011 | Deanna Krinn
As the sustainable agriculture movement grows it continues to attract innovators and entrepreneurs from non-farming backgrounds. Steve Domyan, an electrical engineer by trade, is no exception. Domyan is the founder of Norwalk, Connecticut-based MetroCrops, LLC, a company committed to creating a network of urban, indoor, hydroponic farms located in impoverished high-density areas.
“I believe personally that innovation occurs when you bring different disciplines together,” said Domyan.
As fossil fuel supplies deplete and prices rise, demand for biofuel substitutes has increased. This growing demand for the development of renewable energy has even caused some to propose converting Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) grasslands to agricultural production to boost availability of such crops as corn and soybean for use as feedstock.
However, a recent study conducted by Michigan State University researchers found that converting these CRP lands to bioenergy production would negatively impact the environment as a result of the increased levels of C02 and greenhouse gas emissions that would be generated.
For Atlanta, GA-based startup, PodPonics, lettuce is everything. More than 12 chefs in the area have gone on record to say PodPonics’ greens are the best they’ve ever tasted, said Dan Backhaus, the company’s sales and marketing strategist.
“For them to get excited, you have to have pretty darn good lettuce,” he said.
PodPonics’ lettuce, by the way, is grown inside of used shipping containers that are converted into modular controlled-environment growth pods. The pods contain a proprietary growing system that combines hydroponics, advanced LED lighting, irrigation and nutrient technology with process control.