[robotics-worldwide] Workshop on Vertical Farming seeks participation from Researchers in Robotics

Sanjiv Singh ssingh at cmu.edu
Tue Aug 14 11:24:38 PDT 2012

We are happy to announce an NSF funded workshop on the Challenges in Vertical Farming, 
Sep 26, 2012 at the  University of Maryland Conference Center.    This will be an interdisciplinary 
workshop to capture the state of the art, define a research agenda, and establish a working group
at the nexus of Biology, Engineering, Economics and Architecture.  We actively seek participation 
from researchers in Robotics.

Here is some motivation:

By the year 2050, we expect human population to increase to 9 billion and to be 
further concentrated in urban centers. An estimated billion hectares of new land 
will be needed to grow enough food to feed the earth. At present, however, over 
80% of the land suitable for raising crops is already in use. Further, if trends in 
climate change persist, the amount of land available for farming will decrease. 
Since crops consume 87% of all water used globally, an increase in water usage
is not possible. Finally, while the need is for 50% higher yield by the year 2050 
to maintain the status quo, we expect agricultural productivity to decline significantly 
across the world, especially in densely populated areas. There is an urgent need for 
high-yield agriculture that decreases the use of water and carbon based inputs per
unit of product, while simultaneously reducing vulnerability of crops to natural 
environmental conditions. Vertical Farming (using controlled environments for 
urban agriculture) will reduce transportation energy required from the distant 
outdoor farms. Recent implementations have shown high yields in the production 
of vegetables in controlled environments. Water usage has been significantly 
reduced compared to traditional outdoor farming, and crops are shielded from 
adverse climate, and, from pests and diseases. In addition, Vertical Farming has 
the potential to provide fresher and healthier produce to the local consumer.

Since no one community or technology holds the magic key, the opportunity for 
is to collectively enumerate and prioritize the challenges that must be addressed to
bring high yield, resource efficient agriculture to fruition.  The greatest contribution 
from this workshop could be a roadmap for governmental agencies and researchers 
to follow as they weigh their priorities in the coming years.  Obviously the needs will 
vary depending on the locale addressed-- we expect that the needs for developing 
countries will be different than those that are less resource constrained.  
The goal of our workshop is to capture the state of the art in agriculture in controlled
environments, to define a research agenda for the future and to establish a working 
group at the nexus of Agriculture, Engineering, Economics and Architecture. The 
output of the workshop will be a report that could serve as the basis of a research 
agenda by federal agencies in the future.

We have assembled a group of experts from around the world to address various aspects -- horticulture,
lighting, irrigation, automation, architecture, economics and outreach--  of vertical farming.  More 
information including the list of speakers, registration for attendance (in person or via live webcast) is 
available  at:


Please feel free to forward this notice to those interested in participating in the workshop.



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