News From The Open Agriculture Initiative
The Food Computer is a controlled-environment agriculture technology platform that uses robotic systems to control and monitor climate, energy, and plant growth inside of a specialized growing chamber. Climate variables such as carbon dioxide, air temperature, humidity, dissolved oxygen, potential hydrogen, electrical conductivity, and root-zone temperature are among the many conditions that can be controlled and monitored within the growing chamber. Operational energy, water, and mineral consumption are monitored (and adjusted) through electrical meters, flow sensors, and controllable chemical dosers throughout the growth period.
Each specific set of conditions can be thought of as a climate recipe, and each recipe produces unique results in the phenotypes of the plants. Plants grown under different conditions may vary in color, size, texture growth rate, yield, flavor, and nutrient density. Food Computers can even program biotic and abiotic stresses, such as an induced drought, to create desired plant-based expressions.
Food Computers can be made in a variety of sizes, for production and experimentation on a wide range of scales.
Personal Food Computer – this tabletop-sized unit will draw makers, hobbyists, and schools that are interested in learning and teaching about food production. These small-scale environments are great for experimentation and for learning about biology, botany, environment, programming, engineering, and more.
Food Server – the size of a standard shipping container, these mid-sized units will appeal to interdisciplinary researchers and small-scale cafeterias, restaurants, and boutique operators. They will allow small scale producers to grown on-site and offer some of the freshest food options possible.
Food Datacenter – while still in the development phase, we hope to expand our technology to control the environments within warehouse sized units capable of industrial production. These units will likely be subdivided in order to grow many different types of crops, all under their ideal growing conditions.
The technology for controlling the environments inside of different sized units may vary, but once the hardware is established, the internal environments, or climate recipes, can be scaled up instantly.