J4.3 Interagency Science and Service: Vertical Farming in Hawaii and Taiwan

Wednesday, 13 January 2016: 11:00 AM
Room 255/257 ( New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center)
Owen H. Shieh, National Disaster Preparedness Training Center, Honolulu, HI; and C. Hyde

The 21st Century has been described as the “Pacific Century,” a time when geopolitical and socioeconomic forces are expected to increasingly pivot toward the nations that surround the Pacific. The impacts of natural disasters in the Asia Pacific are compounded by rapid population growth and increasingly limited natural resources, potentially exacerbated by climate change. To confront these multifaceted scientific and social challenges, a paradigm shift toward interagency and interdisciplinary cooperation in education and research is necessary. To this end, the National Disaster Preparedness Training Center (NDPTC) at the University of Hawaii founded the Joint Science Internship for Pacific Resilience and Security (JSIPRS) in the summer of 2015. The JSIPRS program brings earth science and engineering upperclassmen from the U.S. military service academies to NDPTC for an intensive 3-week program that motivates the new generation of scientist-leaders to think critically and apply their education to the most pressing civil-military issues in the fields of natural hazards science and management. By integrating science into decision-making, the students receive hands-on experience with developing FEMA-certified training courses for emergency managers and responders, while also pursuing a research topic of their choice that they later develop into senior capstone projects.

One such project from the 2015 JSIPRS program is presented in the second half of this talk by a cadet from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, who is investigating the economic and physical viability of vertical farming in the production of taro in Hawaii and Taiwan. The use of vertical farming in urban environments offers a potential solution to diminishing agricultural output due to climate change. Taro is an important crop in both Hawaii and Taiwan, both of which are Pacific island communities with vastly different population density. The comparison of taro production in both communities will lead to a better understanding of whether vertical farming can meet traditional production levels for a single crop. Results from the experimental phase of the project will also be presented, which compares the growth rates of plants raised in concentrated red/blue versus full spectrum LED light, along with an atmosphere enriched with CO2. The goal of this study is to determine whether Pacific island communities could someday be self-sustained by vertically farming staple crops. International education programs at the U.S. Military Academy also supported the cadet's semester abroad in Taiwan, where projects were undertaken at an organic farm in Alishan, managed by the indigenous Tsou people. A recent meeting with the director of sustainable design of Hong Kong's 10DESIGN to discuss his Vertical Farm Centre project served as further motivation for the viability of modern, self-sustaining communities that draw on the inspiration of traditional cultures to adapt to an era of changing climate, diminishing agriculture, and threatened food security in the Asia Pacific.

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