The latest in greenhouse and hydroponics from the 2019 Great Plains Growers Conference

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By John Porter, Urban Agriculture Program Coordinator, Extension Educator & Assistant Professor at the Nebraska Extension/Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture

On a cold and snowy Saturday, producers, experts, and extension educators gathered at the Great Plains Growers Conference, held at Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph, MO to hear the latest and greatest in a variety fruit and vegetable production systems.  From vegetable IPM and new farming technology to greenhouse and hydroponics, over 350 participants moved about the cozy interior of campus while snow fell outside.  The conference is a three-day event hosted by the Extension services and grower’s groups from Missouri, Iowa, Kansas, and Nebraska.

The Saturday greenhouse and hydroponics track featured a wide array talks from the basics of hydroponics for beginners to technological considerations for CEA and more from national experts and local producers.  

Drew Demler

Drew Demler (@farmerspaceman) of Big Tex Urban Farms, shared how his non-profit farm, located on the State Fair of Texas fairgrounds, provides education year-round and during the fair to hundreds of thousands of fairgoers while growing food to support neighbors in need.  In a separate talk, he talked about basic hydroponic systems for varied levels of growers – from getting started with a home system to more advanced producers, and about his current partnership with Hort Americas (@hortamericas) to evolve the operation.

Local producers Taylor Rogers and Suzy Grosdich of In Season Omaha (@inseasonomaha) were on hand to share how they added microgreens to their farm operation, evolving to meet the needs of their 30+ restaurant clients in Omaha and hundreds of customers at Omaha’s biggest weekly farmers market.  Attendees got an up-close and personal view of starting and harvesting microgreens through a hands-on clinic and demonstrations from the pair throughout the conference. The clinic featured a variety of media and trays, including Biostrate and PureGrown composite and hemp growing mats from Quickplug (@QuickPlugNA), Terrafibre (@TerraFibre) hemp growing mats from BioComposite Group, heavy-duty colorful trays from BootStrap Farmer (@BootstrapFarmer), and seeds from Johnny’s Select Seeds (@JohnnySeeds).  

Djavid Abraham, the lead systems designer for Agritecture (@agritecture), was on hand to expand on the technical considerations of CEA, including the basics of greenhouse and indoor vertical farm operations – how they differ in design, costs, and inputs.  In a second talk, he dove deeper into technical talk for CEA, giving a more in-depth look at different hydroponic systems, lighting systems, and other design considerations for both greenhouse and indoor operations.  

Producers, from those experienced with CEA, those thinking about adding it to their operations, and those who are looking to start-up production, were on hand to take in all the wisdom and knowledge shared by these experts who graciously agreed to visit the cold-snowy plains in January.  With Kansas City, Des Moines, and Omaha creating the nexus of what is called the “Silicon Prairie,” the opportunities for CEA to boom in these technologically advancing major mid-America cities are ripe. From projects large to small, expect to hear more from the evolving agriculture landscape from the corn belt in the future.

By John Porter, Urban Agriculture Program Coordinator, Extension Educator & Assistant Professor at the Nebraska Extension/Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture

2 COMMENTS

    • Hi Roger,
      Keep up with us here at urbanagnews.com and we promise we’ll let you know of any future events! 🙂
      Thanks!

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