Agtech solutions with The Agrarian Group in Arkansas


Posted on Friday 10th June 2022
Agtech Solutions

An increasingly viable solution for climate change is Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA), implemented across the U.S., in states likes Arkansas.

The water, energy, and food security nexus is a real and present problem. 

Here are some highlights from the website of The Agrarian Group:

As a species, we face the most complex and deadly problems we have ever encountered. Erratic weather events caused by climate change destroy crop yields each year. Pesticides have ruined our soil and water scarcity has become a national security issue. 70% of food cost is linked to fossil fuels, and prices are only expected to rise. The average food item travels 1500 miles to reach it's destination. However, despite everything we do, 40% of all food in the United States is thrown away post-harvest. 


The Agrarian Group was started as an answer to a question - How will we feed the projected 9.1 Billion people that will reside on earth in 2050? To achieve this, we need to increase our already stressed agricultural production by 70%. How do we grow better?

To learn more about Vertical Farming for states like Arkansas, visit The Agrarian Group

Agtech solutions can help solve the challenges we face. 

Here is an example of Agtech Solutions in Arkansas:

Resource Optimization in Controlled Environment Agriculture

The greenhouse and vertical farming industries are rapidly changing agricultural sectors in Arkansas. The introduction of new technologies, changes in production systems, new crops, and shifts in consumer markets continues to raise new questions for research. Problems associated with fertilizer nutrient, pH, and irrigation management are still major causes of poor plant quality and crop losses during production. Many greenhouse operations in Arkansas collaborate with the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension on applied research and outreach related to improvement of production efficiencies, adoption of sustainable practices, and maintenance of a profitable business.The greenhouse industry in Arkansas and nation-wide is rapidly adopting the use of "soilless" (meaning lack of mineral field soil) growing substrates formulated with new wood fiber materials. This is primarily because wood fiber offers growers cost-savings, and is considered more sustainable compared to traditional substrate materials such as sphagnum peat moss and perlite. However, wood materials differ considerably in their physical and chemical characteristics, and recent research has shown that these materials affect nutrient and water use efficiency, plant quality and growth. Growers have reported a need to update fertilizer and irrigation strategies with wood fiber substrates, and the University of Arkansas is one of several main research groups working in this area.Plant species interact with the applied fertilizer and nutrient solution, which affects root zone pH and nutrient uptake. Therefore, greenhouse growers must match the applied fertilizer/nutrient solution with the plant species grown for optimal performance. However, much of this research has focused on plants during vegetative growth (Dickson et al., 2016; Marschner, 2013; Haynes, 1990), and species likely change their nutrient uptake patterns and effect on pH during other developmental such as fruiting and flowering (Sonneveld and Voogt, 2009). In addition, current hydroponic nutrient management strategies are often inefficient, wasteful, costly, and have negative environmental consequences (pollution, nutrient runoff). We aim to address these issues to help develop more efficient nutrient management strategies for growers.Quality of greenhouse-grown edible and food crops is often greatest at the end of production, and declines rapidly during post-production (shipping, retail, or consumer environment). Previous research has shown fertilizer strategies that build residual nutrients (particularly calcium, silicon, magnesium, and iron) in the root zone and plant tissues significantly enhance shelf-life quality and longevity. Use of certain agrichemicals, such as wetting surfactants, as well as other environmental and cultural factors (light, temperature, harvesting time) also influence post-production quality. Regional growers are interested in the development and potential to implement new strategies to enhance plant quality during post-production and for their customers.


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