Illumitex Makes a Splash at the 2016 CEAC Greenhouse Short Course

Several times a year the Controlled Environment Agriculture Center (CEAC) at the University of Arizona offers workshops on a variety of greenhouse related topics. This week Illumitex was there in full force at the “Greenhouse Crop Production & Engineering Design 2016 Short Course” as platinum sponsors and as presenters on two very different topics.

Like an oasis, CEAC (sounds like “sea-ak”) is located in the Sonoran desert and is a sought-after resource many have come to appreciate. You might ask, why would cutting edge greenhouse research and technology be developed in the desert? Dr. Giacomelli (Director of CEAC) explained this in his keynote address Monday morning.

As it turns out, a typical day this time of year has a 40° F change in temperature. Sure, there’s plenty of sunlight, but without using a controlled environment system many types of crops could not withstand these extremes. In addition, water is a huge commodity in Arizona. Greenhouse and indoor farming operations use less water than if crop fields were sprayed in the hot sun.

After the keynote address, the first day was spent talking about plant production in greenhouses. For me, it was my first time attending and a bit like meeting my heroes. Dr. Giacomelli and Dr. Kacira are two researchers I had read about many times before. Dr. Kubota is another professor at CEAC whom I’d hoped to meet, but she was at another conference this week.

After each group of talks there was a Discussion – Q&A period in which Paul and I did not hesitate to bring up topics or questions for the speakers and/or general audience.

The second day was my presentation. The morning was focused on lighting and I gave a talk on LED lighting for horticulture. After the presentation, I was very surprised by the positive response. Not just from many of the participants and professors, but I also received an email via an online participant within 20 minutes of my talk!

On the third day, Paul Hardej gave his presentation. This day was focused on indoor growing and his talk was very different than mine. He covered all the legislation and city code issues dealing with vertical farming in a metropolis and how he surmounted these challenges as the founder of Farmed Here in Chicago.

During the breaks Paul and I talked with attendees at our booth outfitted with our latest greenhouse fixture, the power harvest. There we spent each day talking about LEDs and Illumitex and many came to want our lights – including Dr. Ayoola Akinwolea at the University OF Ibadan in Nigeria and several indoor and greenhouse growers from around the country.

On the fourth day the conference moved to CEAC. Here we joined different workshops on control and instrumentation, strawberry production, and tomato production in greenhouses.

Finally, our trip was complete with a trip to biosphere 2 to see how an experiment in Astro-farming was carried out many years ago.

The CEAC workshop allowed Paul and I the chance to share our diverse knowledge with the greenhouse and indoor farming community. At the same time, we further educated ourselves in order to help our customers.

I am returning to Austin with new customers, new knowledge, and new appreciation for the Controlled Environment Agriculture Center. I can’t wait to utilize these experiences towards furthering our stance as leaders in the industry.