All Scott Henry wanted was somebody to talk with about aeroponic farming.
A fourth-generation farmer on his family farm—LongView Farms—just outside of Nevada, Henry was thinking about the future of the family business and had just seen a YouTube video on aeroponic farming.
“I kind of saw that and said that looks like the future more than what we are doing outside right now,” Henry remembers.
So he visited Kevin Kimle of the Ag Entrepreneurship Initiative at Iowa State University looking for a couple interns who could try something similar on a smaller scale and test the concept of growing without using soil.
He was late to the party.
“We walked 20 feet to the kitchenette at the AgEI offices at Iowa State and there was one of Nebullam’s first prototypes up and running with lettuce growing in it,” Henry says.
Since that moment in February of 2017, Henry said LongView Farms has partnered with Nebullam to help the Ames-based AgTech company develop the hardware and the software. Nebullam has space at LongView Farms to install prototypes.
“We are farmers at the end of the day, not software engineers and mechanical engineers,” Henry says. “What has worked great is we don’t want to play on that side, I just want a system that will grow produce indoors.”
Has it been working?
Henry says lettuce, multiple varieties of basil and microgreens have been raised and that it tastes good too.
“We’ve eaten more lettuce in the last 15 months…” Henry says laughing. “And what has been great is they continue to develop the infrastructure and we’ve been able to use the production from those to help better understand what the market for locally grown, indoor production looks like.”
And while Henry is still mainly a corn and soybean farmer, he says merging technologies such as artificial intelligence and robotics into farming has potential to severely disrupt the industry.
“With technology and continued knowledge of those individuals who are farming and taking risks on trying new things, we are going to continue to on that track of doing a dang good job of producing food,” Henry says.
Henry said LongView Farms will continue to push Nebullam and help them raise the $1 million they hope to raise by this summer.