Princeton's Vertical Farming Project harvests knowledge for a budding industry

Morgan Kelly, Princeton Environmental Institute:  Princeton University’s Vertical Farming Project began at a conference in 2016 when the topic turned to increasing the crop yield of hydroponic systems — wherein plants are grown indoors without soil by using only water and nutrient solutions — by pressurizing water with extra oxygen in a tank before feeding it to the plants. The idea was on everyone’s lips.

Paul Gauthier knew it was wrong. A plant physiologist, he realized that once the water leaves the tank, it will depressurize and release more oxygen, which reduces photosynthesis.

“They wanted to provide more oxygen to the roots to increase the yield, but they were doing the opposite of that,” said Gauthier, an associate research scholar in geosciences and the Princeton Environmental Institute. “That’s when I decided to get into the game.”

In April, Gauthier launched the Vertical Farming Project with support from a High Meadows Foundation Sustainability Fund grant obtained through the Office of Sustainability. The project includes a number of student researchers and is part of the Campus as Lab Initiative. Vertical farming involves growing food crops indoors on stacked shelves. Hydroponics is the most popular form of vertical farming, but the concept is always the same. Sheltered from pests, frost and the scorching sun, plants can grow rapidly, with harvests taking place several times a year. The Princeton farm can produce mature basil in one month, month after month.

Located in a small windowless room in Moffett Laboratory, Princeton’s vertical farm is used to identify the optimal conditions for growing food indoors. The farm contains about 80 plants. (No tomatoes, for space considerations: “If you give them the right conditions, they’ll grow and grow and grow and never stop,” Gauthier said.) The most successful plants are herbs and leafy greens, which allow for the occasional feast. The project has partnered with an eating club, the Terrace F. Club, which has incorporated the project’s bounty into meals. An Oct. 24 event at Forbes College featured dishes made with lettuce and herbs from the vertical farm and the Princeton Garden Project served alongside produce from a commercial food distributor.  Full Article:

Comments (0)

This post does not have any comments. Be the first to leave a comment below.


Post A Comment

You must be logged in before you can post a comment. Login now.

Featured Product

Get enhanced vision-powered systems for Auto Farming!

Get enhanced vision-powered systems for Auto Farming!

e-con Systems leads the way in Agriculture Automation, leveraging over 20 years of expertise in OEM camera design, development, and manufacturing. e-con's diverse camera range, featuring advanced capabilities and partnerships with leading sensor technology providers like Sony, onsemi, and OmniVision, is tailored for various smart farming applications such as weed detection, bug identification, crop health monitoring, and harvesting automation. The recent addition of e-con's 20MP camera captures tiny details, enhancing efficiency in crop monitoring and automated machinery guidance. e-con cameras offer versatile interfaces, exceptional low-light performance, expert ISP tuning, multi-camera support, HDR, long-distance capabilities, and customizable features, empowering agriculture automation. e-con specializes in providing AI-ready multi-camera solutions for real-time decision-making. e-con Systems has empowered numerous clients in the smart farming industry to develop and deploy futuristic agricultural systems, including agricultural robots, autonomous tractors, and drones. As NVIDIA's Elite partner, e-con Systems revolutionizes agricultural applications with deep learning algorithms for NVIDIA Jetson kits, expediting time-to-market for customers.