Helping Solve Hunger Issues: AACAL Students Awarded for Food Computer Project

Good News

Soil no longer has to be a barrier when it comes to growing produce in our area.

Especially for areas where plants might not otherwise be able to grow. 

Three engineering students from the Amarillo Area Center for Advanced Learning are taking it one step further by being able to produce goods from anywhere in the world. 

We’re used to seeing these kinds of farmers out in the field toiling the ground and showcasing their green thumb. 

Say hello to farming in the future. 

These self-proclaimed “nerd farmers” will be using a computer to produce their crops.

“Well as you look at production agriculture today, you know the amount of airable land is decreasing, world population is increasing, water is becoming more scarce and the more things we can do, the more things we can try to produce more food and fiber, I think, we ought to try it,” said Steve Donnell, Plains Land Bank Sr. Vice President.

With check in hand from Plains Land Bank the three students are eager to hit the ground running with this innovative way and already see the benefits for our extremely dry climate.

“If we get this going on a greater scale, then since we’ve been in a drought recently, it would help us to use less water and to grow more food and it’ll be more cost efficient than actually like growing it on a field and it actually grows, I think they said it was five times faster,” said Allton Montano, Student.

The engineering student’s project is modeled after work being done at MIT’s media lab. 

“So what we’re trying to do is we’re trying to use what they’ve learned so far and actually get started on this food project as well, so that way we can grow foods here that we normally can’t grow, such as foods in Africa or South Asia, somewhere across the world that we can’t grow here so that would be really cool to do,” said Luis Contreras, Student.

Contreras said they plan to grow various vegetables to make a salad before the end of the semester and he said they may start off by growing lettuce or carrots. 

The food computer is all part of the student’s senior project. We’re told the students will get some assistance from local farmer and businessman  Charles Dooley and a local entrepreneur.

Officials said this method could help solve hunger issues in parts of the world.

Contreras said to his knowledge, they’re the first group in the Panhandle to take on this task.

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