Kyle Smith in the Arizona Daily Star:

"Monsanto: "7 acre Tucson greenhouse will help advance agriculture"

Farmers know the importance of the world’s natural resources. About 0.5 percent of the world’s water is available as freshwater. Of that, about 70 percent is used by agriculture. At the same time, farmers are using less land, while looking for ways to enrich the soil to produce better harvests. "Monsanto recognizes we have a role in helping today’s farmers use natural resources efficiently and sustainably. And, it’s one of the many reasons we are excited to advance agriculture, right here in Arizona", says Kyle Smith, strategy and deployment lead at Monsanto in a special article dedicated to the Arizona Daily Star.

In August, Monsanto announced plans to build a 7-acre, high-tech greenhouse in Pima County. "At this enclosed new structure we expect to grow corn year-round, supporting the advancement of corn seeds that will eventually become new varieties for our farmer customers. In collaboration with academic institutions like the University of Arizona, we’ll speed up innovation with the advantages provided by a state-of-the-art greenhouse."

Sustainability is at the heart of the site design. "By moving key pieces of the corn product development process under cover (inside), we minimize environmental impact. Growing corn in a greenhouse actually reduces water usage while managing exposure to weather variables we may otherwise encounter in open field environments. More days of Arizona sunlight mean that we can maintain plants in a more energy-efficient way than similar greenhouses elsewhere."

Automation will allow precise management of plant diseases and insect control, reducing how much pesticide and fertilizer we use. "Additionally, the smaller footprint combined with a 100 percent water-recapture and recycle system will mean that we’ll be using one-fifth of the water normally used on an open cornfield. Along with the greenhouse, we expect that approximately 2 acres will be used for corn-seed processing and an office building. Other improvements at the site will include a 2-million-gallon water tank for fire suppression and a composting facility."

According to Smith, innovation can’t happen without the power of people. "When the project is fully operational, we anticipate employing 40 to 60 people in positions ranging from HVAC engineers to plant biologists. Monsanto is regularly recognized as a top employer and corporate citizen in the communities where we operate, and we look forward to investing in the local economy."

Source: Tucson.com

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