Global automation specialist Autogrow and New York-based Agritecture Consulting are appealing to growers to take part in the inaugural Global CEA Census. The Census seeks to understand the scale and nature of Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) to better determine the roadblocks to accelerating the industry. This includes greenhouses, vertical farms, indoor rooms and hoop or tunnel houses.
Both Agritecture and Autogrow believe a great deal of CEA activity worldwide is not well documented, with data being fragmented and often unreliable, making it difficult to provide support or solutions on a larger scale.
“We do a lot of work with city leaders around the world and the conversations are about how the infrastructure needs to be in place in order to use new technology, drive costs down and operate sustainably. Through the Census we hope to highlight who is growing, what they’re growing, where they are growing and what they need to take it to the next level,” said Agritecture founder Henry Gordon-Smith. “Based on that information both Autogrow and Agritecture can then work closer with governments, growers and city planners on where they can focus their efforts and utlize valuable resources.”
One of the biggest known roadblocks to adoption of new technology today is internet connection on the farm. Without connectivity, growers are unable to join the growing trend of cloud-based software and remote access.
“We need to understand whether growers are ready for innovation, and if they aren’t, how we can get them there,” said Autogrow CEO Darryn Keiller. “New crop production technologies are heavily reliant on growers having multi-modal internet to the farm and commercial grade onsite network infrastructure. If this isn’t addressed, and two supported at a government level, then we will see an ever-widening ‘digital divide’ at the farm level.”
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“All the best technology in the world is of no use if it can’t be connected to the farm,” he added.
Additionally, the Census hopes to record best practice solutions to share across the industry.
“There are some amazing growers around the world who are using creative solutions for things like water usage, labor shortages, energy consumption or improved marketing activities using social media. We want to capture that and share to the wider community. Only by banding together can we hope to push our industry forward in a positive way,” explained Gordon-Smith.
The Census will run until 15 July with a report on the findings published in September. All submissions will remain confidential and only anonymized data will be reported.
WIN A TRIP TO NYC: Submissions will also go in a draw to win a trip to New York to attend this year’s NYC AgTech Week running from 21-26 September.