The spring Sustainability Seminar Series continues on February 28 with the talk "Urban Farming is Growing Up: A Case Study in High Density Agriculture" by Alex Rudnicki of AeroFarms.
The green revolution played a hand in the surging global population, but the current agricultural system will have to confront its vulnerabilities soon. An increasing population requires greater supply of food sources, but the amount of arable land is decreasing around the world. Sustainable water, fertilizer, and pesticide consumption take a back seat to crop yields, creating consequences such as hypoxic zones, water scarcity, and loss of insect biomass. The rush for more cropland in developing nations has driven deforestation and ruined ecosystems.
As the world becomes more aware of these trade-offs, sustainable farming techniques are becoming more common. Amongst the most radical is controlled environment agriculture (CEA), which decouples food production from its natural environment. What seemed like science-fiction is becoming reality, and CEA shows great promise as a method of food production in urban areas. Located in Newark, NJ, AeroFarms is known as the world’s largest indoor farm, leading the way in CEA initiatives. As an ambitious startup, AeroFarms has over 100 employees and its facility will be capable of producing over a million pounds of leafy greens annually.
Rudnicki joined AeroFarms as one of its earliest employees in 2013. In the four years at the company, he helped the develop AeroFarms’ innovative technology that grows leafy greens without soil and without sunlight. Compared to traditional farming, AeroFarms uses significantly less water, area, and time to grow the same amount of produce. AeroFarms and its leadership look to be the torch-bearers of the industry by expanding the number of its own facilities and helping the development of policies. He joined AeroFarms after spending time at Turner Construction Company, where he was an estimating and field engineer. He had the pleasure of working on the BASF Headquarters project in Florham Park, which earned two LEED Platinum awards for its building core and interior. This experience catalyzed his interest in sustainable design which led him to AeroFarms.
Rudnicki received his bachelor's of science in civil engineering and engineering mechanics from Columbia University in 2010. He is currently back in graduate school, working on his MPA in Environmental & Science Policy at Columbia University, expecting to graduate in 2018.
For more information, please contact Dr. Dibs Sarkar at [email protected]
Attendance is free but seating is limited to 30 people. Please RSVP to Dr. Sarkar at [email protected]
For those who are unable to attend in person, the seminar will be live webcast via Stevens WebCampus and Blackboard Collaborate.