The University of Toledo will host a workshop next week focused on advancing high-tech indoor farming.
The event, which takes place Tuesday, June 27, through Thursday, June 29, is being held in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service, the U.S. Department of Energy, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
Dr. Frank Calzonetti, UToledo vice president of research, said with demand for locally grown, pesticide-free produce increasing across the world, scientists across several federal agencies are focusing their attention on controlled environment agriculture.
“This is an important way to produce food locally while reducing the energy burden and loss of food quality resulting from importing produce from distant regions,” Calzonetti said. “We want to play a leadership role in bringing together different federal agencies to support controlled environment agriculture and to involve our faculty members in this work.”
The three-day event features a range of presentations from industry, government, and academia focused on specific challenges and examples of progress in controlled environment agriculture in producing high-quality food with little environmental impact.
U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur will be on hand to deliver a welcome to attendees. Kaptur was instrumental in bringing the technical unit of the Agricultural Research Service to Toledo to support the northwest Ohio greenhouse industry and has been a strong advocate of research to support the agriculture industry.
Among the presenters are Dr. Gioia Massa, a plant scientist based at the NASA Kennedy Space Center, and Dr. Steven Kappes, associate administrator of the USDA’s Office of National Programs.
Massa will discuss NASA’s Space Crop Production vision and introduce the crop plant research and production capabilities on the International Space Station. Kappes will provide an overview of how controlled environment agriculture is an important area of focus for the USDA.
Other topics will include emerging technologies in automation, artificial intelligence, and machine learning, pest management and plant health, water efficiency and management, and the economic and societal impacts of controlled environment agriculture.
The event will conclude with a tour of Four Star Greenhouse in Carleton, Mich., which produces flowering and ornamental plants for wholesalers, retailers, and landscapers.