Will the CEA need exploratory cultures to diversify?

Jon Greene, Senior Technical Specialist at Bluelab, spoke with Joseph Chidiac (JC), CEO and Horticultural Engineer at CultiBio, about CEA in need of exploratory crops to diversify during the series of webinars on the future of controlled agriculture of Bluelab.

Jon and JC refer to CEA’s advanced crops, by which they refer to crops beyond traditional leafy vegetables and herbs. Think broccoli, root vegetables, goji berries, wasabi, and even bananas that can now be grown locally in hydroponics, thanks to recent technological improvements.

The opportunity lies in the new techniques and varieties of crops
Growing crops in the 21st century is a unique challenge, but an unprecedented opportunity. The combined power of nature and human ingenuity elevates the level of growth with systems that create gains in efficiency, productivity and a more sustainable means of growth.

“The main effect is that you reduce food miles. So you reduce the need to haul a lot of these bulk products up there, and I think that’s very positive, ”said Joseph Chidiac, CEO and Horticultural Engineer at CultiBio.

Jon supports this sentiment and uses the example of how the urban farm and Grow + Gather restaurant in Colorado have successfully used CEA to build a thriving business and cut food miles. Owner Jeff Johnston has transformed a former 1950s auto repair shop into an urban farm and restaurant, complete with gardens, a greenhouse, and a vertical farm. Its indoor hydroponic towers are 1,200 square feet or 111.5 square meters grow space. Towers alone equals 1.8 or maybe two acres of farmland and eliminates countless miles of food. ”

The change beyond lettuce and herbs is already happening
JC points out that significant progress is being made in reducing food miles and highlights some key ACE milestones.

  • More and more farms are appearing in the United States and Canada to reduce transportation needs and reduce greenhouse gases.
  • In Holland and Iceland we see greenhouses growing bananas. Transportation costs are reduced and there are smart systems available where people use cogeneration and take advantage of steam.
  • Europe grows papayas, spinach and arugula, which are usually imported. With the movements to CEA in Europe, crops such as apples, almonds, cherries (which are susceptible to diseases requiring a lot of pesticides and fungicides) will have these inputs eliminated.
  • The Caribbean grows cilantro and winter crops.
  • China has more traditional orchards in transition to CEA.
  • As the price of root crops increases, local production of these vegetables will become a viable option. Broccoli and cabbage grow very well in hydroponics. Although they take up space, it will inevitably come to the point where it is a more viable option that outweighs the space and effort required in relation to transporting these crops.

Download the full conversation here.

Read the full article at www.blog.bluelab.com.


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