We are living in turbulent times. Humanity currently faces crucial challenges on a variety of aspects of life and on a larger scale than ever before. How we deal with these challenges and navigate the coming decades may be pivotal to the long-term survival of the human race.
One of these challenges entails the development of a form of agriculture that is balanced and sustainable in order to successfully feed a world population of an estimated 11 billion in the year 2100. Our current form of agriculture is depleting the earth and polluting our own habitat. It has never been designed with the principles of sustainability in mind, it is based on the false promise of eternal growth.
We need a new way of growing foods and one possible answer to this question is a solution called vertical farming. With the still increasing urbanization, it makes sense to see how we can maximize the production of our foods within the cities themselves.
Two students of the new education ‘Smart Technology’ at the Da Vinci College in Dordrecht, The Netherlands, are working on a prototype for a smart operated vertical farming solution. Central to their project is the use of sensors in order to regulate the climate of the plants that are to be grown. Temperature and humidity sensors continuously log atmospheric conditions, another sensor measures air quality. Based on all these parameters ventilation is regulated by means of several fans. Watering is automated based on moisture readings from the soil and lighting is switched on and off depending on the needs of the plants. The realization of this vertical farming system is executed in phases, where each group of students extends and improves upon the work of the previous students.
The growing importance of sensors in a wide range of industries stresses the importance of proper training in the application of these sensors. The European funded project Digital Technologies in Advanced Manufacturing (DTAM) aims to create an internationally valid and applicable program in order to provide that training. By developing this training program, the goal is to prepare students for a future that will encompass more and more sensors and actuators operated based on that sensor data.
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