Crops in Controlled Environments Convening Event

November 13, 2017 – November 14, 2017

IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown, New York

To advance crop development in controlled systems that will support economic viability, FFAR will host a convening event to help us determine the state of science and, most importantly, the areas where FFAR can catalyze research efforts to advance crop development for controlled environments. At this convening event, we will explore areas of research where joint efforts in research between the public and private sectors will advance the field, such as:

  • Advances in the molecular understanding of traits required for controlled environments
  • Breeding crops for controlled environments and increasing nutritional content
  • Alternative methods for crop adaptation
  • Environmental stressors to enhance qualities and nutritional content

FFAR believes that through increased investments from both the private and public sector, we can help put controlled environment agriculture at the forefront of providing food security and economic opportunities in urban centers.

Event Details

Date: November 13, 2017
Time: 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Location: IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, New York

Keynote Speaker

Caleb Harper
MIT Media Lab

Discussion Topics

The following topics will be discussed at the convening event:

  • Where are we now in terms of crops for controlled environments?
  • Can we grow everything in controlled environments?
  • Market opportunities
  • Opportunities to advance the development of crops for controlled environments
  • Breeding for traits
    • Phenomics and machine learning for breeding
    • Molecular Volatile Organic Compounds and their ability to accelerate growth, increase nutrition and desirable properties
    • Using controlled environments for phenotypic plasticity
    • Parthenocarpy and opportunities to produce fruit without pollination
    • Molecular strengthening and molecules for crop improvement
  • Keynote Speaker: Caleb Harper (MIT Media Lab)
  • Roger Buelow (Aerofarms)
  • Kevin Folta (University of Florida)
  • Eri Hayashi (Japan Plant Factory Association)
  • Chieri Kubota (Ohio State University)
  • Brian Lanes (PlantLab)
  • Kim Lewers (USDA-ARS)
  • Zhijian Li (USDA-ARS)
  • Thomas Lubberstedt (Iowa State University)
  • Ard Reijtenbagh (PlantLab)
  • Stephen Schauer (KeyGene)
  • Asheesh Singh (Iowa State University)
  • Matt Vail (Local Roots)
Issue Background
Vertical farming with leafy greens

Photo courtesy of Valcenteu

For the first time in history, urban environments are now home to much of the world’s population. As population shifts continue to occur and as agriculture faces new challenges, the food system must adapt to ensure access to good and nutritious food for urban populations. To meet these challenges, more people are looking to urban agriculture as an opportunity to augment our food system’s current capabilities. Not only can urban agriculture increase resiliency within urban environments, it can also create opportunities for economic growth.

The economic viability of these production systems is dependent on a number of factors. While there is a lot of interest in technology development and reducing the costs of energy, there are also opportunities to increase economic viability through the types of crops that can be grown. Our current agricultural system, including the crops we grow, were designed for growth in open fields under pristine conditions, not for the production systems where the environment is completely controlled. And the ability to completely control our environment offers new opportunities to exploit crop genetics to provide high quality, nutritious food that is profitable.  If urban agriculture is truly going to be part of a solution to going to substantially enhance the capabilities our current food system, a concerted effort is needed to help these production systems reach their full potential.


Registration for this event is now closed.

Contact Details
 John Reich

This event is made possible by generous support from Bayer Vegetable Seeds and KeyGene.

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