Hortitecture: The Next Wave Of High-Tech Horticultural Thinking

By David Thompson, Engagement Manager Australian Institute of Horticulture

Australia’s horticultural research and development corporation, Hort Innovation, recently announced the formation of a new partnership to advance the state of high-tech urban farming horticulture with partners RMCG, the University of Technology and US-based Agritecture.

The growth of advanced urban food production systems is gaining speed across the world with massive interest in systems that supply high-volume greens in stacked decks with LED lighting, or vertical systems that use hydroponic growing media on walls. In Singapore, Aerofarms has partnered with Singapore Airlines to grow microgreens and salad greens adjacent to the airport for low-mileage catering supplies.

So far, though, much of the interest has centered on edible produce innovation.

Hort Innovation CEO Matt Brand said, “Bringing such technology to Australia will attract capital and new entrants to the sector with new ideas, approaches and mindsets. It gives us the opportunity to grow more from less and to keep demonstrating the good work that Australian growers do, day in day out, providing food to families both here and overseas.”

 

Image Credit: Chris Barbalis

 

For ornamental horticulture, high-tech production opens up possibilities around new thinking in landscape design and amenity horticulture.

“The opportunity we have in horticulture is to enable people of all interests and backgrounds to apply innovative thinking through horticulture based around their own interests”, says Michael Casey MAIH RH, who has worked extensively in greenwall horticulture and educational gardens.

“For students that love technology, we have the potential to install sensors that quantify plant-related data and use computing technology to visualise plant and crop performance. For students that love media and photography, there are endless ways to showcase the beauty of plants in the urban growing environment. For future chefs, that access to locally-produced, high-quality plant products including not just traditional greens but also edible parts and flowers can open up innovation and ideas for amazing food experiences in their futures. This is how we can bring new ideas and new people into horticulture”, Michael says.

The convergence of new ideas and advances from overseas into Australia makes horticulture ready for a bright future. The way we produce food, greens and plant products will continue to be influenced by horticultural technologies, apps and integration with cloud computing.

The Australian Institute of Horticulture is continually scanning for new advances and new ways to prepare our members for a new kind of future.

1 comment

Hi David,

Great article and timely. I’d like to discuss this direction that the industry is taking and how we TAFE) can support with appropriate education either through the new skill sets or our diploma course.

Cheers,
Andrew

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