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Tips for Creating an Inclusive Color-Coding Plan for Food Manufacturing Facilities

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Submitted by Elsewhere on 2020-Dec-04 Fri 13:54

Color-coding as a quality assurance and safety measure has been on the rise since the passage of FSMA in 2011. Now, 10 years later, color-coding is being used in a wide range of industries from food manufacturers and processors to pharmaceutical developers and even brewers. As the popularity of the practice of color-coding has increased, so too has the market for color-coded tools. Nowadays, those in the industry can find virtually every high-quality cleaning tool under the sun, and a hygienic tools storage option for that tool in the color needed. The improved quality and availability of these products is wonderful, but nice tools alone cannot ensure a successful color-coding plan. Color-coding compliance is only possible when there is team-wide buy-in. That means meeting the team where they are—making the plan important to every single employee who steps onto a production floor. To do that, it needs to be introduced in an inclusive manner. The following are some tips for creating and implementing an inclusive color-coding plan.

Conventional #agriculture uses a staggering 70% of our #water supply and produces 30% of our #CarbonEmissions

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Submitted by Elsewhere on 2020-Nov-23 Mon 15:20

Conventional #agriculture uses a staggering 70% of our #water supply and produces 30% of our #CarbonEmissions. #IndoorFarming uses 92% less #water and produces 67-92% less carbon. If we are to curb #climatechange before it’s too late, things need to change.

📅 Controlled-environment specialty crop production

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Submitted by Elsewhere on 2020-Nov-19 Thu 10:39

Professional advice on growing thriving specialty crops in controlled environments is available for free at the second annual Urban Agriculture Controlled Environment Conference online December 3. The event is led by research faculty and specialists of the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and Texas…

Building trust in CEA food safety

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Submitted by Elsewhere on 2020-Nov-17 Tue 10:51

In early 2019, after the Thanksgiving 2018 romaine recall, numerous leading CEA producers of leafy greens came together with a thought – what if we treat food safety as a pre-competitive issue? We could work together to develop a strong and credible approach to food safety for CEA leafy greens, whilst…

What are the production and training issues facing controlled environment agriculture growers?

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Submitted by Elsewhere on 2020-Nov-16 Mon 08:40

Ohio State University professor Chieri Kubota is focused on helping to resolve the production and training challenges facing controlled environment growers. Trying to produce vegetables in hot, humid conditions can be difficult for controlled environment growers whether growing in a greenhouse or a…

📅 The importance of light quality in CEA systems

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Submitted by Elsewhere on 2020-Nov-11 Wed 08:46
500Foods shared this story from HD.com.

Spectrum has an important impact on plant growth, morphology, and development. Plants have evolved a sophisticated photoreceptor system capable of perceiving small changes on the light spectrum. Plants use spectral changes as information to adapt and increase survival and reproduction. Therefore, by…

Subtropical sweet potatoes locally produced in Canadian greenhouses

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Submitted by Elsewhere on 2020-Nov-04 Wed 10:10

Over the past few years, sweet potatoes have risen in popularity among Canadian consumers. Ontario production meets just over 50 per cent of the province’s demand for the tubers. A recent report by the Greenbelt Foundation explains how local production could expand to meet 79 per cent of provincial…

CEA Basics: Sustainability

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Submitted by Elsewhere on 2020-Oct-31 Sat 14:43

Indoor food production systems have the opportunity to  reduce the overall impact that agriculture has on the environment. Greenhouses reduce the need for many precious resources, such as land and water, while simultaneously producing higher yields per unit area than field grown crops.  However, other resources are required to produce food indoors, including building materials and energy to operate systems.  Furthermore, technologies like evaporative cooling systems, utilize water, offsetting some of the savings acquired through hydroponic irrigation.  Therefore, environmental stewardship and sustainability should be an important element when planning, designing, building, and operating the greenhouse.   

CEA Basics: Planning and Design

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Submitted by Elsewhere on 2020-Oct-15 Thu 15:20

As you plan to design and construct your indoor agriculture facility, it will be helpful to consider the following questions:What crop(s) will you grow?What type of facility will you use?Where will you grow the crop?Who will manage the crop?How will the crop be managed?When will the crop grow?​The answers to these questions will help your design and construction team determine the operating needs of your facility. Those needs include everything from what type of systems to install; the adequacy of available utility services, such as electricity, natural gas, water and sewer; identifation of local and Federal building codes; and other considerations that will make your facility most efficient and productive. ​The answers to these questions will help guide the design, operational, and marketing requirements of the greenhouse, ultimately determining the crop growth potential and economic viability. 

Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA)

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Submitted by Elsewhere on 2020-Oct-09 Fri 17:55
500Foods shared this story from DoctorGreenhouse.com - DrGH Blog.

The purpose of indoor agriculture is to provide plants with a protected and controlled environment. Greenhouses, vertical farms, closed plant production systems, and other protected agriculture systems allow for year-round crop production, optimal growth, and maximum profits.  

The many benefits of growing food crops indoors include: 
  • Year-round production        
  • Production in unfavorable climates 
  • High crop densities and yields (kg/m2, lb/ft2)     
  • Decreased irrigation water use   
  • Consistent quality        
  • Control over nutrient delivery 
  • Protection from animals and pests       
  • Improved flavor      
  • Added value       
  • Price premium

To achieve these benefits, greenhouses require a broad spectrum of technology and capabilities, including a structure and equipment for protecting and controlling the plant environment.  Greenhouses can be very technically complex; however, they also share many similar needs and qualities of any plant production endeavor, including access to water, energy, land, and skilled labor.  Follow along with us this month as we talk more about CEA Basics. Our next blog series will more closely examine:
  • Planning and Design
  • Facility Options
  • Sustainability
  • Resources

Grapevines in a greenhouse

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Submitted by Elsewhere on 2020-Oct-08 Thu 11:02

Guillaume Grapevine Nursery is set up for ongoing success. Nursery Manager Simon Delbos reported that his ATI greenhouse is ready to perform at a high-level starting next year, he said. “The plan is to grow 150,000 wine grapevines in each turn, with potentially three turns every year depending on our orders.” Growing grapevines…

CEA food safety group adds members, prepares metrics

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Submitted by Elsewhere on 2020-Sep-25 Fri 10:32

The CEA Food Safety Coalition, which represents controlled-environment agriculture operations that include greenhouses and indoor vertical farms, has added members and is preparing to release food safety metrics by the end of the year.

“The coalition’s members collaborate by establishing standards and sharing insights to protect consumers,” Paul Lightfoot, coalition founder and chairman, and president of BrightFarms. “The more members, the safer the industry, so I’m thrilled that all the major players in our space have joined the coalition.”

The group is developing food safety standards tailored to controlled environment growing, and the group plans to release this year a set of criteria supporting a “no need to wash” label for members, and food safety metrics for members (in addition to underlying external food safety audits), according to a news release.

“Along with the growth of the CEA leafy greens industry comes the need to evaluate food safety risks specific to these commodities,” Jennifer McEntire, senior vice president of food safety and technology at the United Fresh Produce Association. “The coalition is playing a critical role in convening the industry and facilitating these discussions, and United Fresh Produce Association is pleased to contribute to this public health-focused effort.”

The newest members are:

Clear Water Farms, Rochester, N.Y.; DeGoede Farms, Sumner, Wash.; Eden Glory Farms, Passaic County, N.J., Element Farms, Lafatette Township, N.J.;  Farm.One, New York City; Gotham Greens, Brooklyn, N.Y.; Green Life Farms, Lake Worth, Fla.; Livingston Farms, Livingston, Mont.; PathSensors, Baltimore;  Planted Detroit; Pure Green Farms, South Bend, Ind.; Sensei Ag, Lāna‘i City, HI  Square Roots, Brooklyn/Wyoming, Mich.; Vertical Field, Israel; and Vertical Roots, Charleston, S.C.

Related stories:


Indoor growers discuss food safety concerns


United Fresh Expo launches Controlled Environment Pavilion

CEA Food Safety Coalition names first executive director

Food safety in CEA systems

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Submitted by Elsewhere on 2020-Sep-22 Tue 10:04

In the webinar 'Food Safety in CEA Systems', presented by GLASE on September 24, 2020, Dr. Gioia Massa, plant scientist at NASA, will highlight some of the unique aspects of space crop production and the microbial food safety considerations of space-grown produce. Data will be presented on space-grown leafy green vegetables, as…

'We are developing a sustainable technology that uses 75% less LED lighting'

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Submitted by Elsewhere on 2020-Sep-08 Tue 10:13

Verde Compacto, a Mexican start-up, producer of container farms and indoor farming growing technologies, has seen significant demand for their growing systems during the pandemic.  'COVID is driving this market forward because people want to know what is behind their food and their diets. Logistic chains in…

CEA Lite: tech and opportunities for Controlled Environment Agriculture

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Submitted by Elsewhere on 2020-Sep-07 Mon 13:45

Environmental challenges, technological advances and changing consumer demand have increased demand for controlled environment agriculture solutions. Agri-TechE is hosting CEA Lite to keep the conversation going around the technologies and opportunities in this vibrant space until everyone can meet again…

Sakata Seed America starts division for indoor-grown varieties

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Submitted by Elsewhere on 2020-Sep-04 Fri 13:47

Sakata Seed America, Morgan Hill, Calif., has a new department that focuses on controlled environment agriculture, including traditional greenhouse operations and the newer wave of indoor production through vertical farms.

The move will boost Sakata’s role in developing produce to be grown in the controlled environment agriculture (CEA) facilities, according to a news release. “We have been focused on this segment for a number of years, especially in the leafy greens category,” Justin Davis, Sakata Seed America’s director of sales and marketing, said in the release. “The timing is ideal for Sakata to create this group to hone our efforts on CEA in order to bring more products to the market for Indoor ag.”

Tracy Lee, who joined Sakata Seed America 11 years ago, will lead the new division. She has also been involved in product management at Geo. W. Park Seed Co. Inc. and W Atlee Burpee.

At Sakata Seed America, she has been involved in product development for multiple categories, and handling home garden and farm market vegetable seed sales.

“I think there is tremendous growth opportunity in serving the controlled environment agriculture segment, and I’m very pleased that Sakata is continuing its leadership in the market,” Lee said in the release. “This is something that I’m passionate about and have been active in for the past several years.”

In August, Bayer AG and Temasek formed Unfold, to develop vegetable varieties for vertical farms.

Related stories:

Bayer invests in vertical farming with focus on seeds

Sakata Seed America acquires Danziger’s blocky pepper program

Sakata Seed America acquires lettuce seed company

CubicFarms announces sale of control rooms to Terramera

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Submitted by Elsewhere on 2020-Sep-01 Tue 09:19

CubicFarms is pleased to announce the sale of three Control Rooms to Terramera. Terramera is a British Columbia-based company on a mission to reduce global synthetic pesticide use by 80 percent by 2030 with its revolutionary Actigate technology platform, named a 2020 World-Changing Idea by Fast Company.  In…

'There are challenges to growing food indoors, many of which have been figured out by cannabis producers!'

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Submitted by Elsewhere on 2020-Aug-31 Mon 09:05

Mark Doherty, Executive VP of Operations with urban-gro talks about how he got into Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) with food crops, then into cannabis, and how he would now like to help new ‘food entrants’ in the CEA world with the knowledge he has gained. “Ten years ago, I started an indoor…

Multivac identifies controlled environment ag as key market

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Submitted by Elsewhere on 2020-Aug-24 Mon 09:37

Controlled-environment produce packaging has become a new market focus for Multivac Inc., a German equipment manufacturer with U.S. headquarters in Kansas City, MO.

Multivac sells packaging equipment and materials to create the ideal produce packages. It specializes in food packaging and in recent years, Cem Yildirim, national sales manager for produce, has aggressively built a presence in the fruit and vegetable market segment.

The firm’s German-engineered technology applies a variety of options in forming and sealing equipment to create highly advanced modified atmosphere consumer packages.

Yildirim cites many advantages for controlled environment agriculture — "CEA" — to use Multivac technology. These operations produce and sell product 12 months a year through hot houses, hydroponics, and aquaponics.

Yildirim notes that even in the idyllic environment of some California growing areas, it is generally rare for a farm to produce and pack every day of the year. “When you’re harvesting and packing every day, it’s more like a dairy operation. The product just keeps coming and your packaging operation must be able to keep up. Every day there is more to harvest.”

Thus, it becomes highly cost-effective to invest in top-level, efficient packaging technology.

Furthermore, Yildirim said CEA is the fastest-expanding production technique in the industry, so even greater utilization of the equipment is expected with inevitable expansion of many individual indoor farms.

Controlled environment farms characteristically are built near population bases, to reduce transportation costs and maximize freshness in serving large cities. Yildirim said Multivac equipment lowers labor costs in these operations with its comprehensive range of packing equipment that minimizes packing room hand labor. Yildirim added that larger metro areas will likely have a greater availability of skilled labor required to operate sophisticated packaging equipment.

All of that said, Yildirim added that Multivac equipment is used in many traditional farms and in traditional growing areas.

Multivac’s fully-automated integrated leafy greens packing line serves the following roles: denesting, filling, tamping, sealing, printing, labeling and inspection. This includes metal detection and precise electronic weighing.

By eliminating the top lid of a clamshell there is a reduction of plastic usage and waste for material source reduction. The trays can be made from recycled content (RPET), recyclable PET or compostable fiber.

The attractive, modern trays offer improved shelf life due to active and/or passive modified atmosphere. Multivac's equipment is hygienically designed, easy to clean and wet-environment suitable.

He said Multivac equipment offers simple, complete integration for ease of use and change-over efficiency.

Characterizing the sealed tops are secure and can be reclosed with peel/re-seal and micro-perforated lidding material. The tops offer a relatively large billboard for graphics and messaging, which can include a variable printed date code and lot number.

Yildirim stressed that having Multivac supply all packaging line components yields a comprehensive line that is electrically and mechanically integrated through one control panel and tested as a system before delivery. Communication across machines reduces downtime and allows safety verification for the entire packaging process. A single point of supplier responsibility also provides clear ownership of future troubleshooting, service, and spare parts support.

Multivac Inc. is a subsidiary of the German company Multivac Sepp Haggenmuller SE & CO. KG, Wolfertschwenden, Germany. Yildirim said the parent company was created in 1961 and has sold more than 115,000 packing machines.

The company placed its United States office amid North America, near the Kansas City International Airport. The firm is service-oriented and, across the continent, has regional offices and service centers to support its products.

Autonomous greenhouse forum

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Submitted by Elsewhere on 2020-Aug-19 Wed 10:22

Autonomous greenhouse is an application of artificial intelligence (AI) in CEA, which will become critical for the future development of CEA technologies, including applications to low and high tech CEA.  Please sign up if would like to join the conversation. This will be the first step to build a community to identify R&D needs…

New session joins Indoor Ag-Conversations webinar series

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Submitted by Elsewhere on 2020-Aug-18 Tue 10:03

As the Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) industry grows, companies are facing greater shortages in qualified talent. How can innovation in training and education accelerate the industry to the benefit of all? Hosted by the Farm Tech Society and Indoor Ag-Con, LLC,  "The Future of Farming: Educating…

How can crop production data advance the controlled environment agriculture industry?

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Submitted by Elsewhere on 2020-Aug-10 Mon 06:37

The Controlled Environment Agriculture Open Data project aims to advance controlled environment research, machine learning and artificial intelligence through the collection and dissemination of crop production data. by David Kuack There is a considerable amount of data being generated by both private…