OpenAg is conducting research to improve how we grow Gossypium, better known as cotton. As one of the most environmentally destructive production crops in the world, cotton requires more pesticides and insectides in field than any other globally commercial crop. Yet it's ubiquitous in our daily lives. Can we build technology to reconcile our appetite for such a versatile commercial material with its demand on natural resources?
Inside of the OpenAg Food Server™ "Container 04" growth chamber, I am operating biological experiments on a near-forest of cotton, to test how it can be grown more sustainably and for higher quality. Specifically, I am deploying aeroponics nutrient delivery to use substantially less water than traditional in-field propagation methods. With tunable LED arrays and intelligent irrigation system, I'm also simulating environmental stresses like short day lengths and drought to cue the plants into flowering earlier in their life cycle. Here at OpenAg, we are effectively modeling the Gossypium species, similar to a computer function, whereby selected inputs produce expected outputs.
Laising with Media Lab member companies supporting our group's research, I am also overseeing the ginning and processing of our first product into its final textile material. Learning about textile and wearable fabric production along the way, I'll challenge how computation, engineering, and design can be used to make fabrics and wearables more sustainable. February 04, 2018 is the first harvest. Stay tuned.