An increasingly viable solution for climate change is Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA), implemented across the U.S., in states likes Delaware.
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?
Agtech solutions can help solve the challenges we face.
Here is an example of Agtech Solutions in Delaware:
Second Chances Farm has created a partnership with the University of Delaware’s (UDEL) Department of Plant and Soil Sciences to develop a Center of Excellence for Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) within Delaware. CEA is a form of agriculture that involves growing produce in enclosed spaces, such as greenhouses or buildings.
Dr. Erik Ervin, who is the chair of UDEL’s Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, has worked to create a new interdisciplinary major under the department called Sustainable Food Systems where students can focus on CEA if they choose. With the rise of CEA in the last 10 years, Dr. Ervin wants UDEL to join the likes of Cornell, Purdue, and Michigan State University, in offering programs that pertain to this quickly developing industry. UDEL’s new CEA program will have a dedicated faculty member to help oversee and foster the programs growth and success.
UDEL offered their first ever hydroponics course in the spring 2019 semester, and Dr. Ervin stated that the Introduction to Sustainable Foods Systems course offered in the fall 2019 semester filled up with students excited to learn about US/Global food systems and sustainability within agriculture.
Part of developing the new CEA program included an interview process with 4 different candidates vying for the opportunity to lead the program. During these interviews, Dr. Ervin and other UDEL staff members brought each candidate to Second Chances Farm’s new permanent location at 3030 Bowers Street in the Riverside neighborhood of Northeast Wilmington. Each candidate was shown our prototype farm and facility to gain a better understanding of how our indoor vertical hydroponic growing modules will operate within Farm #1.
Nicole Gomez of Second Chances Farm is one of the first students to enroll in Dr. Ervin’s CEA program. During her sophomore year at UDEL, Nicole was given the opportunity by Dr. Ervin to complete independent research regarding nutrient management and from there she learned how to operate UDEL’s hydroponic growing system. As of September 2019, Nicole has begun working part-time at Second Chances Farm where she provides nutrient management input and research for our growing processes.