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MODULAR FARMING IN CHALLENGING ENVIRONMENTS

RICHARD WORSFOLD DIRECTOR, BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT, OCE INC

Overview
State of the Art Controlled Environment Plant Production CESRF Space as a Technology Driver Emerging Technologies
Lighting Systems Nutrient Management Atmosphere and Gas Exchange Advanced Imaging Communications - ACMGH Energy Systems
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Space as a Technology Driver

If it can be done here

It can be done here

In the Beginning

Hypobaric Chambers (HBC)

Small-scale HBCs

Higher Plant Compartment

Commercial Applications

LEDs for Plant Systems in Controlled Environments


OCE Industry Academia Collaboration Program Bio-economy and clean technologies

Academic PI: Dr. Mike Dixon (U Guelph) Industry Partner: Dr. Al Scott (COM DEV)

June 7, 2012

Advanced Lighting
LED systems
Light Recipes & Plant Physiology Economical Lighting Solutions

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The Problem
Ontario is the third largest greenhouse producer in North America behind California and Florida. Due to northerly latitudes, Canadian greenhouses require supplemental lighting for efficient year-round production. Energy costs are rising Traditional white/yellow greenhouse lighting is inefficient for plants. Overhead lighting starves the inner canopy of light.
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The Solution
Modern LEDs are now as efficient as traditional sources, last longer, and can be tuned to emit only photosynthetically active light in wavebands where it is mostly absorbed. We are using unique OCE-supported research infrastructure with new LED systems to determine crop specific colour balances increasing productivity and influencing physiological variables such as height, branching ratio, leaf size, and bud density (photomorphology) We can develop compact cool innercanopy arrays to more efficiently distribute the light.

400

500

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Tuned LED System

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Outcomes
Potential new Ontario business in economical LED systems to efficiently increase food productivity:
Overhead LED lighting array Inner canopy LED lighting array Programmable by crop and physiological stage for best colour balance (germination, growth, fruiting)

Key component of efficient modular Northern Ontario food production systems


Food security in isolated communities Significant nutrition and health impacts Reduces dependency on shipped-in food Enhances northern economy with new jobs
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Summary
This project adds commercial sustainability to a major R&D project that could significantly improve the efficiency of greenhouse agriculture in Ontario. We are discussing with a European company to set up a facility in Ontario to manufacture the lighting systems.

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Gaps Still Exist Required & Emerging Technologies

Opportunities

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Ion Specific Nutrient Monitoring


In recirculating irrigation
Nutrient imbalances can develop if controlling on bulk electrical conductivity

Diurnal/circadian considerations
Nitrate/Nitrite dynamics

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Atmosphere Management
Carbon dioxide Temperature Humidity (VPD) Trace gases (i.e. ethylene) Oxygen Air flow Miscellaneous
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Plants as Sensors
- GFP (Green Fluorescent Protein) detects changes in gene expression that can be captured (images) in realtime -Direct measurements of plant water status in response to environmental stresses with in situ sensors

Plants provide direct feedback to interpret environment control strategies!

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Communications and Remote Operation

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Energy Systems

A lot of batteries

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Infrastructure
Who will build the containment structures? Who will do the systems integration? Who will install and how? Who will manage the clusters making up the farm? Who will be the gardener? Who will manage, repair and overhaul the installations?

Summary
It can be done! Emerging lighting, nutrient management, and control systems will enable northern food production Still fundamental knowledge gaps and training that need to be addressed Cost (mostly energy) and acceptance are still big hurdles
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Questions?

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SPECIAL THANKS TO DR MIKE DIXON OF THE U OF GUELPH AND DR AL SCOTT OF COMDEV FOR THE SLIDES USED IN THIS PRESENTATION

THANK YOU