Key Takeaways from Indoor Ag-Con 2022 | Henderson Engineers Key Takeaways from Indoor Ag-Con 2022 | Henderson Engineers

Key Takeaways from Indoor Ag-Con 2022

John Passantino, Senior Program/Project Manager, recently represented Henderson Engineers at Indoor Ag-Con, a premier conference for professionals in indoor or vertical farming and controlled environment agriculture (CEA) on February 28 – March 1, 2022 at Caesars Forum in Las Vegas, NV. Organized in tandem with the National Grocers Association (NGA) Show, this year’s theme was “Growing Your Business.” Attendees had the opportunity to connect and network with more than 1,000 total industry professionals.

As Henderson’s first time at the conference, John returned with several insights on this growing industry (no pun intended).

SUSTAINABILITY & TECHNOLOGY

Indoor Ag-Con attendees came from a variety of sectors, but all shared the goal of creating sustainability in the agricultural supply chain. To accomplish sustainable and eco-friendly objectives, CEA operators are looking to technology. The technological options are astounding! Innovations include automated propagation, vertical farming systems, pest management, lighting controls, water management, and high-performing building systems, among others. Most of the technology showcased was highly integrated, allowing even small teams of operators to manage their top-to-bottom facility through streamlines controls. The Internet-of-Things (IoT) in this industry is alive and well.

SOLVING WORLD HUNGER

The indoor agriculture industry is made up of highly passionate individuals, and many are mission-driven to solve the world’s food crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic stressed the supply chain, exacerbating already existing food deserts and intensifying shortages. Food deserts are locales where access to affordable, nutritious, or fresh foods is limited. These occur in areas where there is a lack of grocery stores to meet the local population’s need for readily available fresh produce. Unfortunately, this is prevalent in both developing and developed nations, and the recent pandemic brought this issue to the forefront.

EUROPE IS LEADING THE WAY

The mecca of indoor/vertical agriculture lies in Europe, specifically in the Netherlands and Denmark. Due to limited land for crop planting, these countries have turned to technology to assist in minimizing their environmental impact while maximizing access to fresh produce grown in sustainable facilities. I had the good fortune to meet some of these companies at the conference and learn more about the innovative ways they bring indoor farms to life.

APPLICATIONS ARE ENDLESS

I had the pleasure of meeting and connecting with professionals across vertical farming and indoor agriculture. These early adopters and pioneers are seeking ways to utilize CEA in their current businesses. From independent grocers looking to increase freshness of their produce to hoteliers finding ways to serve diverse ingredients and large-scale operators experimenting with substrates and soils to support local grocery delivery, there were seemingly endless applications of indoor farming technology and design. This is no typical application as educational, restaurant, grocery, retail, and so many more were represented in this highly diverse group of attendees.

In a rapidly expanding industry, it’s difficult to outline every single technology or design best practice. As the industry continues to experiment and refine its processes, a variety of solutions exist to address the unique challenges of indoor agriculture facilities. It is unknown how technology will evolve.

Written By
JOHN PASSANTINO

Senior Project Manager

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