USDA briefing included webinar of CEA resource efficiency

22-06-2022    08:44   |    HortiBiz

PORTLAND, Ore. - Growers and other stakeholders will learn how to access and share information on best practices and how to measure efficiency in their operations as part of a USDA-funded project.

With the controlled environment agriculture (CEA) industry expected to grow to $172 billion in 2025 from $74 billion in 2020 — more than 130% — the need has never been greater for growers and other stakeholders to master the often-complex details of managing and measuring resource efficiency.  On June 9, Resource Innovation Institute presented a briefing to officials of the U.S. Department of Agriculture that included a webinar open to anyone interested in furthering their knowledge of the industry's best practices and in knowing what benchmarking tools are available to them and how they are used to reduce inputs, cut costs, increase yields, and reduce the environmental footprint of their operations.

The briefing and webinar were part of a USDA Conservation Innovation Grant-funded project: Data-Driven Market Transformation for Efficient, Sustainable Controlled Environment Agriculture. The project aims to orient the CEA market sector toward more efficient production through coordinated research on energy and water practices spearheaded by RII and the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE).

RII and ACEEE briefed top officials of the USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), which manages the program.

The webinar focused on:

  • PowerScore, a resource benchmarking tool that offers growers deeper insight into their energy, water and emissions efficiency.
  • Key productivity performance indicators that enhance competitive business insights for growers.
  •  RII's library of controlled environment agriculture best-practices guides that helps operators optimize crop yields and environmental improvements to meet sustainability targets and become more resilient in competitive markets.


"This webinar helped participants learn how to improve their working knowledge of performance metrics and how to use them to increase efficiency by  demonstrating the practical, hands-on tools and sources of information that are available to them," said Derek Smith, Executive Director of the Resource Innovation Institute. 

Smith was joined in presenting the webinar by Kip Pheil, National Energy Specialist of the USDA's NRCS Energy and Environmental Markets Technology Team and by 

Jennifer Amann, Senior Fellow of ACEEE'S Buildings Program. 

The presenters explained how CEA facilities can be benchmarked with PowerScore, which includes key performance indicators, calculates year-over-year changes and identifies pathways for more resilient strategies. Panelists shared how growers and their project partners can access a library of curricula, attend live workshops, and stream training on demand on RII’s online CEA Learning Center. The speakers demonstrated how to create PowerScore Performance Snapshots and shareed how case studies illuminate the best practices being implemented in the field. These resources can result in improved facility design, support implementation of high-performance equipment and lead to quicker adoption of low- and no-cost strategies to address multiple NRCS resource concerns.

The webinar took place Thursday, June 9 at 2:00 p.m. EST.  It can be watched on demand at the link here. 

About Resource Innovation Institute: Resilient harvests for the next hundred years

Resource Innovation Institute is an objective, data-driven non-profit organization whose mission is to measure, verify and celebrate the world’s most efficient agricultural ideas. We cultivate a better future for all of humanity with our vision of resilient harvests for the next hundred years. Our consortium of members brings perspectives from across the field—uniting architects and engineers, growers and operators, researchers and analysts. Founded in 2016 to advise governments, utilities and industry leaders on the resource impacts of indoor cultivation, an under-studied and resource-intensive market, we have since extended our research to other sectors in partnership with the US Department of Agriculture. To take on the challenges of our changing world, we believe that food, medicine and other vital crops demand data-driven insights, securely shared with integrity. By nurturing the human connections in our complex and dynamic industry, we can build deeply restorative systems for people and the planet. Visit our website at ResourceInnovation.org. Follow us on LinkedInFacebookTwitter and Instagram.

 

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