30MHz and Hort Americas join forces to bring smart sensing to North American growers

Leading commercial horticultural suppliers Hort Americas, and smart sensing technology providers 30MHz are pleased to announce that they’ve partnered to bring the power of real-time, crop-level monitoring to growers across Canada, the United States, the Caribbean and Mexico. Hort Americas is the first North American distributor of 30MHz technology.

Continue reading 30MHz and Hort Americas join forces to bring smart sensing to North American growers

NASA developing LED light recipes that astronauts and growers can use

The LED light recipes that NASA scientists are developing on Earth could eventually be used by astronauts in space and growers on the ground to optimize the production of food crops.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has been growing plants in space for research since the early 1980s. Within the last five years, NASA has been focusing on growing plants in space primarily for food production and as an astronaut life support system.

Continue reading NASA developing LED light recipes that astronauts and growers can use

NASA Taps Osram to Support Its Food Production Research

Osram’s smart horticulture lighting system prototype used in NASA ground research to help provide space crews with a reliable source of fresh food

WILMINGTON, Mass. & KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla.–Osram, a global high-tech lighting company, today announced it is providing the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) with a customized version of its proprietary connected horticulture research lighting system, Phytofy RL. The smart lighting software, coupled with a unique setup of connected grow light fixtures, will supplement the lighting technology used in NASA’s Food Production Research focused on production of salad-type crops for crews during space travel. All software, hardware and LEDs in Phytofy were developed by Osram. Osram has developed a broad portfolio of horticulture LEDs that irradiate the specific wavelengths needed for optimum growth of a wide variety of plants and flowers, allowing the light to be adapted specifically for the needs of various crops.

Continue reading NASA Taps Osram to Support Its Food Production Research

Are you looking for an economical, effective way to incorporate dissolved oxygen into your irrigation water?

Incorporating air or oxygen into irrigation water using nanobubbles can improve crop yields and reduce susceptibility to disease pathogens.

What started out as a way of making wastewater treatment systems more efficient with oxygen enrichment has expanded to how nanobubble aeration technology can improve production of agricultural crops. Moleaer Inc. in Torrance, Calif., filed a patent on nanobubble aeration technology in 2016 with the intention of using it as a way to deliver gas in a number of different applications.

Continue reading Are you looking for an economical, effective way to incorporate dissolved oxygen into your irrigation water?

Hort Americas looks to be a connector of products and knowledge for the horticulture industry

Whether growers are producing vegetables, ornamentals or other hydroponic crops, Hort Americas is working to provide its customers with the products and knowledge they need to be successful.

When Hort Americas in Bedford, Texas, started operating as a wholesale horticulture distributor in March 2009, the company had no existing customer base.

Continue reading Hort Americas looks to be a connector of products and knowledge for the horticulture industry

What are the benefits of maintaining the optimum substrate oxygen level?

Increasing the oxygen level in the root zone can ensure healthy root growth and can impact crop yields.

Low oxygen levels in the growing substrate can play havoc with the health of both vegetable and ornamental plants. Shalin Khosla, greenhouse vegetable specialist at Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs in Harrow, Ontario, said a substrate oxygen level below 5 parts per million can have a negative effect on plant growth.

Continue reading What are the benefits of maintaining the optimum substrate oxygen level?

Growing microgreens with LED grow lights in Sonora, Mexico

(Español abajo.)

Urban grower Karla Garcia is proud to announce the creation of her new company, Microgreens FLN based in Sonora, Mexico. Karla is a recent graduate with honors and a master’s degree in plant science from the University of Arizona. She is proud of her company’s commitment specializing in microgreens production using an indoor vertical farming strategy. Microgreens are an emerging class of specialty leafy greens and herbs. The crops are harvested when the cotyledons are fully developed and in some cases when the young plants have one true leaf.

Continue reading Growing microgreens with LED grow lights in Sonora, Mexico

2017 retail sales of organic fresh produce reach nearly $5 billion

The Organic Produce Network and Nielsen report sales of organic fresh produce items approached $5 billion in 2017, an 8 percent increase from the previous year. Nearly 2 billion pounds of organic produce were sold in grocery stores last year, which is a 10 percent volume increase from 2016.

At U.S. retail stores, sales of organic fresh vegetables were $2.4 billion. Organic fresh fruit sales exceeded $1.6 billion. Sales of nearly $1 billion in organic value-added produce items brought total sales to $4.8 billion in 2017.

In 2017 organic packaged salad was again the leading organic fresh produce item, approaching $1 billion in sales. Packaged salad still accounts for one in five organic dollars.

Topping the sales in organic fruit were berry crops, which saw a 22 percent increase in volume sales. Organic berry sales, which include strawberries, blueberries and blackberries, topped $586 million in 2017.

http://www.organicproducenetwork.com/article/384/nielsen-and-opn-announce-organic-fresh-produce-retail-sales-reach-nearly-5-billion-in-2017

Voices of Horticulture: Gene Giacomelli

Moon Farming with Gene Giacomelli

by Steve Millett

Dr. Gene Giacomelli has a dream to grow veggies on the moon. Gene has dedicated his research at the Controlled Environment Agriculture Center (CEAC) at the University of Arizona in Tucson to designing a lunar greenhouse that will enable astronauts to grow food in outer space. As a student of the UofA’s Greenhouse Tomato workshop I was given the opportunity to visit Gene’s Lunar Greenhouse. Walking into the room and first seeing the Lunar Greenhouse gave me goosebumps. Being that close to something that important to the future of space exploration gave me an adrenaline rush of inspiration. Gene’s work and the work of others at NASA and around the US will enable us one day to live on another planet. Thanks to Gene we are one step closer to that dream.

Continue reading Voices of Horticulture: Gene Giacomelli

What are the benefits of applying greenhouse shading products?

Sudlac shading products give greenhouse growers of flowers and vegetables the ability to increase and extend production during periods of warm temperatures and high light levels.

High temperatures and high light levels, especially during the summer can have negative effects on ornamental and vegetable crops produced in protected structures, including greenhouses. An economical way for growers to reduce light and temperature levels is by applying shading products to greenhouse glazing materials.

Continue reading What are the benefits of applying greenhouse shading products?

Over $17 million available for organic research funding

USDA’s National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA) has released its Request for Applications (RFA) for the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI). OREI grants provide crucial support to the organic industry by funding research, education, and extension projects to improve and advance organic agriculture.

A total of $17.6 million is expected to be available for projects designated in OREI’s eight legislatively defined purposes (including the biological, physical and social sciences) in fiscal year (FY) 2018. All applications for consideration are to be submitted by March 1, 2018.

NIFA has identified nine priority areas for FY 2018, including a new priority focused specifically on policy. This new priority area is intended for projects that “identify marketing, policy, and other socioeconomic barriers to the expansion of organic agriculture in the United States and develop strategies to address them. Lobbying and advocacy activities do not fit under this priority.”

What’s the future of conventional agriculture? Does it include vertical farming?

Leading Japanese indoor ag tech companies to visit the heart of U.S. agricultural research and biotechnology community to attend controlled environment networking event.

If you are involved with the vertical farming or indoor agriculture industries, then you should plan on attending Ag Tech Worlds Collide. Scheduled for Feb. 21, 2018, at North Carolina State University, this event will tackle the big questions currently being addressed in the vertical farming and indoor agriculture industries worldwide.

Urban Ag News and the Japan Plant Factory Association in coordination with the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry are pleased to announce this joint networking event with U.S.-based agricultural organizations and operations. Participating Japanese organizations/companies include: Japan Plant Factory Association, Keystone Technology Inc., Shinnippou 808 Factory, Nihon Advanced Agri Corp., ESPEC MIC Corp. and MIRAI.

 

Presentations focus on CEA impact

Key presentations at this controlled environment agriculture (CEA) event will be made by Dr. Chieri Kubota, professor of controlled environment agriculture at The Ohio State University, and Dr. Ricardo Hernandez, assistant professor in the Department of Horticultural Sciences at North Carolina State University.

Dr. Kubota’s presentation will discuss “Optimizing input and output in controlled environment agriculture.” Dr. Kubota received a PhD. in horticultural engineering and M.S. in horticultural science from Chiba University in Japan. She worked for six years as a faculty member at Chiba University, 16 years in the School of Plant Sciences at the University of Arizona and recently joined the faculty at The Ohio State University. At Chiba University Dr. Kubota studied under and worked with Dr. Toyoki Kozai, one of the most published and greatest minds in indoor agriculture.

Dr. Kubota’s research program focuses on the development of science-based CEA technologies. She has been very active in interdisciplinary collaborations contributing to horticultural crop production under controlled environments. Her research includes value-added CEA crop production, vegetable grafting, hydroponic strawberry production and CEA LED lighting applications.

Dr. Hernandez will discuss “Using vertical farming/indoor ag to support traditional farming. He is a faculty member in the Department of Horticultural Sciences in the area of horticultural energy at North Carolina State University. He has a B.S. in agronomy–crop consulting from New Mexico State University. His M.S. is in entomology–biological control from Texas A&M University. His PhD. is in plant sciences–plant physiology from the University of Arizona. He has a doctoral minor in entrepreneurship from the McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship, Eller School of Business and a minor in ag and biosystems engineering from the University of Arizona.

Dr. Hernandez’s research is focused on making CEA tools and techniques an integral part of sustainable agriculture and horticulture.

 

Event registration, location specifics

Ag Tech Worlds Collide will be held in the York Auditorium of the JC Raulston Arboretum in Raleigh, N.C. Entry to this event is $25 and includes morning coffee service and lunch. Attendance is limited and the event will sell out quickly. Click here to register.

Essential Plant Elements

The 17 Essential Plant Elements include nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, sulfur, boron, chlorine, iron, manganese, zinc, copper, molybdenum, and nickel.  

The non-mineral essential plant elements include hydrogen, oxygen, and carbon. These are either taken up as a gas or water.  

There are 4 elements that are beneficial to promote plant growth but are not considered to be necessary for completion of the plant life cycle. They are silicon, sodium, cobalt, and selenium.

Figure 1 illustrates the essential and beneficial elements location on the periodic table. You can see that there are three clusters of elements within the periodic table.

These elements can be further divided into either macro- or micronutrients based on the relative concentrations typically found in plant tissues. The macronutrients include nitrogen, potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and sulfur. The micronutrients are chloride, iron, boron, manganese, zinc, copper, molybdenum, and nickel.

The 17 essential plant elements can be remembered using a clever Mnemonic device that my botany professor Dr. Max Bell taught me in my undergraduate days at Truman State University.  Here is the mnemonic device to remember the 17 essential plant nutrients of higher plants:

  1. HOPKNS Ca Fe is Mighty good and Clean. The owner is my Cu Zn Mo B the Nickel Miner.

The beneficial mineral elements can be remembered as a “Cozy Sinner” (Co Se Si Na).

Figure 1. Periodic table of the elements illustrating the essential and beneficial elements in higher plants.

 

In hydroponics, these mineral elements come from either the fertilizer salts you add to your source water or are already present in your source water. The macronutrients carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen come from either water or gases in the air.

Our Hort Americas Hydroponic fertilizer (9-7-37) was specifically designed to meet the unique needs of hydroponic plant production. Please contact us at to find our why Hort Americas Hydroponic Fertilizer is the perfect fertilizer for your hydroponic system.

Voices of Horticulture: Ricardo Hernandez

 

Ricardo’s Journey Illumines Horticulture

El viaje de Ricardo ilumina la horticultura

Ricardo Hernandez’s story is an inspirational journey of immigration, dedication, perseverance, and hard work that continues to shine light on unknown frontiers in horticulture. His story is exceptional.

Ricardo was born in the small town of Valle de Allende, Chihuahua, Mexico (2010 population of 4,185) and grew up in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua. His strong family was supportive of his dreams for higher education and encouraged him to pursue his passion.

Ricardo immigrated to the United States of America in 2005 and began his post-graduate education at New Mexico State University where he earned his B.S. degree in Agriculture. Texas A&M was his next destination where he earned a M.S. degree in Biological Control and Integrated Pest Management. Ricardo then joined Dr. Chieri Kubota’s program at the University of Arizona where he excelled at Plant Physiology and Controlled Environment Agriculture with minors in Agriculture and Biosystems Engineering and Entrepreneurship to become Dr. Ricardo Hernandez. This accomplishment is not an easy thing to do.  


La historia de Ricardo Hernández es un viaje inspirador de inmigración, dedicación, perseverancia y trabajo duro que continúa iluminando las fronteras desconocidas de la horticultura. Su historia es excepcional.

Ricardo nació en el pequeño pueblo de Valle de Allende, Chihuahua, México (población 2010 de 4,185) y creció en Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua. Su fuerte familia apoyó sus sueños de una educación superior y lo animó a perseguir su pasión.

Ricardo emigró a los Estados Unidos de América en 2005 y comenzó su educación de posgrado en la Universidad Estatal de Nuevo México, donde obtuvo su B.S. grado en Agricultura. Texas A & M era su próximo destino donde obtuvo un M.S. Licenciatura en Control Biológico y Manejo Integrado de Plagas. Ricardo luego se unió al programa del Dr. Chieri Kubota en la Universidad de Arizona donde se destacó en Fisiología de Plantas y Agricultura Ambiental Controlada con menores en Agricultura e Ingeniería de Biosistemas y Emprendimiento para convertirse en el Dr. Ricardo Hernández. Este logro no es algo fácil de hacer.



Today, Dr. Ricardo Hernandez is now a U.S. citizen and assistant professor at North Carolina State University, one of the premier horticulture universities in the United States. Ricardo and his wife, Liliana, are teaching their two beautiful children, Samuel and Santiago, the same character traits that have enabled them to become a success in what they do and how they live their lives.

Ricardo’s humble journey is proof of the positive impact of immigration and that hard work and determination will lead to great rewards. We are fortunate that Ricardo took those first steps onto U.S. soil and into our profession.

In this “Voices of Horticulture” segment, Dr. Ricardo Hernandez explains some of his work at North Carolina State University on tomato and cucumber transplant response to light quality.  


Hoy, el Dr. Ricardo Hernández es ahora ciudadano de los Estados Unidos y profesor asistente en la Universidad Estatal de Carolina del Norte, una de las principales universidades de horticultura de los Estados Unidos. Ricardo y su esposa, Liliana, están enseñando a sus dos hermosos hijos, Samuel y Santiago, los mismos rasgos de carácter que les han permitido convertirse en un éxito en lo que hacen y en cómo viven sus vidas.

El viaje humilde de Ricardo es una prueba del impacto positivo de la inmigración y de que el trabajo duro y la determinación llevarán a grandes recompensas. Tenemos la bendición de que Ricardo dio los primeros pasos en el suelo de los Estados Unidos y en nuestra profesión.

En este segmento de “Voces de horticultura”, el Dr. Ricardo Hernández explica parte de su trabajo en la Universidad Estatal de Carolina del Norte sobre la respuesta del trasplante de tomate y pepino a la calidad de la luz.


 

Ricardo’s Sustainable Horticulture Energy
https://hortenergy.cals.ncsu.edu/people/

 

Publications

  1. The Evolution of LEDs http://magazine.greenhousemag.com/article/november-2016/the-evolution-of-leds.aspx
  2. Plant Morphogenesis http://magazine.producegrower.com/article/june-2016/plant-photomorphogenesis.aspx
  3. Far-red and Blue Light Synergistically Mitigate Intumescence Injury of Tomato Plants Grown Under Ultraviolet-deficit Light Environment
  4. Physiological, Morphological, and Energy-use Efficiency Comparisons of LED and HPS Supplemental Lighting for Cucumber Transplant Production

 

LinkedIn
https://www.linkedin.com/in/ricardo-hernández-60540663/

 

Interviewed by Farmer Tyler on UrbanAgNews
http://urbanagnews.com/blog/light-quality-with-farmer-tyler-and-dr-ricardo-hernandez/

 

Dissolved oxygen improves plant growth, reduces crop time

Incorporating dissolved oxygen into hydroponic production systems during warmer temperatures can help improve plant growth and reduce crop time.

Trying to grow hydroponic crops like leafy greens can be a real challenge during warmer times of the year. Growers have few options to lower temperatures, including cooling the greenhouse and/or water temperature. Another production technique that is being used by hydroponic growers in the United States and Australia is to introduce dissolved oxygen into the fertilizer tank solution.

“We’ve heard anecdotal reports that increasing dissolved oxygen levels can help prevent some root diseases like Pythium and other root rots,” said Tyler Baras, special projects manager at Hort Americas in Bedford, Texas. “We’ve also heard that increasing dissolved oxygen can possibly improve nutrient uptake and improve overall growth. Another possible benefit with using dissolved oxygen is reducing tip burn on leafy greens.

“These are some of the main issues with growing in warm climates like Texas during the summer. With an increase in water temperature comes a higher disease pressure and chances for tip burn. This has occurred in both nutrient film technique and deep water culture systems.”

Hort Americas conducted trials growing butterhead lettuce, basil and arugula in deep water culture systems at three different levels of dissolved oxygen.
Photos courtesy of Tyler Baras

The optimum water temperature for lettuce is between 65ºF-70ºF. For basil the optimum water temperature is around 75ºF.

Baras said most of the references he has read for adding dissolved oxygen suggest incorporating 4-10 parts per million for leafy greens.

“Most growers that I know are adding between 6-7.5 ppm for leafy greens,” he said. “When growers start to go beyond that rate to reach a higher level they have to use something like compressed oxygen or ozone. These are the main two methods, which are more expensive, for achieving a higher dissolved oxygen rate. Most growers I know are using a less expensive Venturi system or an air pump with air stones to add dissolved oxygen.”

 

Trialing different levels of dissolved oxygen

Baras has been studying the impact different dissolved oxygen levels can have on butterhead lettuce, basil and arugula grown in deep water culture systems. He set up deep water culture systems with three different levels of dissolved oxygen: 2 ppm, 7.5 ppm and 29 ppm.

“We have been tracking growth and how it affects the morphology of the plants,” he said. “The 2 ppm dissolved oxygen rate is what we were able to achieve without doing any type of aeration. This was our control.”

In another system Baras used a Venturi attachment to a small submersible pump that drew in atmospheric air.

“The highest rate of dissolved oxygen that we could achieve using atmospheric air was a maximum of 8.5 ppm,” he said. “The rate hovers between 7.5 to 8.2 ppm, with it usually averaging 7.5 ppm.”

The third system is a high rate of dissolved oxygen that uses compressed oxygen tanks to deliver 29 ppm.

“This system uses nanobubble technology,” he said. “We were using a prototype device that forces oxygen into a solution in really small bubbles so that the oxygen stays in suspension longer instead of falling out. The lowest rate that we could set was 29 ppm. This level of dissolved oxygen is much higher than what most leafy greens growers are targeting.

“A lot of the flowering crop and cannabis growers who are incorporating dissolved oxygen are actually targeting these higher rates. These growers are achieving 20-40 ppm dissolved oxygen. The flower and cannabis crops tend to prefer to be grown on the dry side. With this type of nanobubble dissolved oxygen technology it opens up this production method to crops beyond leafy greens.”

 

Some dramatic results

Baras said he has seen some dramatic effects on plant growth with higher dissolved oxygen rates. At the beginning of the trials during the first month the water temperature in the fertilizer tanks was 80ºF. During the second month the water temperature was between 75ºF-80ºF.

“At 2 ppm the arugula plants were severely stunted and were unsalable,” he said. “At this low rate there were also some severe nutrient deficiencies. At 7.5 ppm the arugula looked normal with slight deficiencies. There weren’t any nutrient issues at the 29 ppm rate and the plants almost doubled in size.”

Baras said even at the low rate of 2 ppm some crops could still be marketable.

“The basil and butterhead lettuce could still pass as marketable at the low 2 ppm rate,” he said. “The plants were very small and it would take several more weeks of production to reach the target weights we were aiming for. At the 7.5 ppm dissolved oxygen rate the plants had fairly normal growth as to what we are used to seeing.

For butterhead lettuce at the 2 ppm rate the heads were smaller and compact. The core of the heads were tighter, but actually had a good shape. At the 7.5 ppm and 29 ppm rates, the heads had similar shapes.

Butterhead lettuce (left to right) grown in 29 ppm, 7.5 ppm and 2 ppm of dissolved oxygen.

For the basil there was an increase in height as the dissolved oxygen level increased. Overall the plant height and size increased at higher dissolved oxygen rates.

“At the 29 ppm rate, the plants looked like the plants at the 7.5 ppm rate, but they were about a week ahead,” Baras said. “Both of these rates produced plants with healthy looking morphology, but the plants receiving 29 ppm dissolved oxygen developed faster. On average all of the crops grown with 29 ppm were at least a week faster to finish to a marketable size.”

 

Differences in root growth

Baras said the roots for the crops in the three rates of dissolved oxygen had different growth patterns.

“The roots in the 2 ppm dissolved oxygen systems were very short and stubby and almost seemed to be retreating from the water,” he said. “The roots remained mostly in the stone wool rooting cubes.”

At the 7.5 ppm dissolved oxygen rate the roots were long and had a lot of lateral branching. Baras said they looked like standard hydroponic roots.

“At the high 29 ppm rate the roots actually had less lateral branching, but they were really white, long and thick,” he said. “But there was less lateral branching. It almost seemed like since there was so much oxygen in the water the plants didn’t need to have as much lateral branching.”

 

Arugula (left to right) grown in 29 ppm, 7.5 ppm and 2 ppm of dissolved oxygen.

Even though there were differences in the root morphology, there was no significant difference in the root weight for all three dissolved oxygen levels. The average root weight for both the 7.5 ppm and 29 ppm rates was 0.8 ounces. The root weight for the 2 ppm rate was about 0.7 ounces.


For more: Hort Americas, (469) 532-2383; info@hortamericas.com; https://hortamericas.com.

David Kuack is a freelance writer in Fort Worth, Texas; dkuack@gmail.com.

Nanobubbler generator delivers dissolved oxygen for improved plant growth

Hort Americas is excited to announce that it has been appointed the exclusive distributor of the Moleaer Inc. nanoBoost Nanobubble Generator. The generator delivers a supplementary source of dissolved oxygen that can significantly increase plant growth, improve size uniformity, reduce stress and prevent root diseases under extreme production conditions. It is ideally suited for horticultural applications including hydroponics, greenhouse irrigation and pond management.

 

Real-world application

Hort Americas installed the 50-gallons-per-minute (GPM) nanoBoost in in its hydroponics demonstration greenhouse in Dallas, Texas, to improve the production of leafy greens and culinary herbs during the summer months when warm summer temperatures make production more difficult.

“Our thought was that if we enhance and maintain higher dissolved oxygen levels, we should be able to improve crop health and ultimately improve yield,” said Chris Higgins, general manager at Hort Americas. “We observed dissolved oxygen levels of 29 parts per million in water temperatures of roughly 90ºF. Not only did we achieve our highest level of dissolved oxygen, but our crop yields increased between 20 and 50 percent.”

 

Improving nutrient uptake and plant transpiration

The self-cleaning nanoBoost Nanobubble generator, which has no moving parts, produces oxygen-enriched nanobubbles that efficiently oxygenate an entire body of water and provides a reserve of oxygen encapsulated within the bubbles.

The generator delivers billions of nanobubbles with 200-times the inter-facial surface area when compared to micro bubbles, making them far superior in transporting valuable oxygen to the plants’ root system. The surface of the nanobubbles is negatively charged, attracting nutrient salts and enhancing nutrient uptake. Nanobubbles also increase the mobility of water molecules, potentially improving plant transpiration.

The generator is available in various flow rates and is fully encased in a durable, NEMA4-rated weather-tolerant PVC shell. The unit is self-cleaning and features plug-and-play installation with no moving parts, thus ensuring long-lasting durability with minimal maintenance. The generator can be configured with an integrated pump or retrofitted with a customer’s existing pump to maximize energy efficiency.