About the Talk: Portable Controlled farming Environment: Challenges and Opportunities
The change of domestic and global economic landscape has presented significant challenges and opportunities to Australian agriculture sector. Demands for a greater variety of fresh food by fast developing Asian economies, combined with increasingly sporadic climate conditions, require the agriculture sector to become more adaptable and flexible in terms of what it produces, when and where its products are made. Conventional controlled environmental systems (CEMs), such as greenhouses, are relatively expensive to build and lack flexibility to scale up or down to meet changing consumer demand. Small portable CEMs may provide a solution in terms of: (a) being more flexible in production scale, and (b) lower initial capital investment. However, all CEMs (large or small) need reliable sources of water and power to function. Hence, for the portable CEMs to be feasible and competitive, an essential condition is that these systems must be off-grid.
Southern Dirt and the School of Engineering at Edith Cowan University are collaboratively investigating fully off-grid container farming systems, powered by solar energy and supplied with recycled water, as an innovative portable CEM. We are analysing: (1) the availability of solar energy and rainwater in rural WA locations that have regional climates monitored by Bureau of Meteorology; (2) strategies for controlling, and real-time monitoring, the growth conditions (temperature, humidity, and water quantity and quality) in fully off-grid CEMs made from retired shipping containers; (3) strategies for in situ water treatment and reuse; and (4) the range of conditions can be sustained in the CEMs at various locations in WA. Preliminary design of the CEM is being carried out, and will be presented at the conference. We will also discuss the options of technologies to be employed for energy storage, control and monitoring, and water treatment and reuse.
About the Speakers: Guangzhi Sun is an associate professor in the School of Engineering at Edith Cowan University. He received a PhD in Chemical Engineering from The University of Birmingham (UK) in 1999, and Bachelor in Engineering from Tianjin University (China) in 1992. He has over 20 years of research experience in water pollution control and wetland ecosystem assessment, and is an internationally recognised researcher in constructed wetlands for wastewater treatment. Guangzhi has produced 90+ scientific publications, primarily from studies on wastewater treatment, wetland ecosystem assessment, water resources management, and water quality modelling.
Iftekhar Ahmad received his PhD degree in communication networks from Monash University, Australia, in 2007. He is currently a senior lecturer with the School of Engineering, Edith Cowan University, Australia. Iftekhar has over 14 years of research experience in remote sensing technologies, next generation wireless communication systems and computational intelligence.