Virtual Grower Software Wins Technology Award

June 1, 2012 - 13:03

The Virtual Grower software for greenhouse crop production was selected as a winner of the 2012 Award for Excellence in Technology Transfer by the Federal Laboratory Consortium.

The Virtual Grower software for greenhouse crop production was selected as a winner of the 2012 Award for Excellence in Technology Transfer by the Federal Laboratory Consortium. 

The award recognizes laboratory employees who have accomplished outstanding work in the process of transferring a technology developed by a federal laboratory to the commercial marketplace. 

Virtual Grower (available free at www.virtualgrower.net) is a decision-support software program designed to assist greenhouse growers and users to predict heating and energy use specific to their location, greenhouse design, crop produced, and management preferences. 

Virtual Grower brings together several existing and new models, model components, and model approaches so that playing “what if” simulations in one area (i.e., changes in energy use) will influence other areas (such as plant development rates) in a safe, virtual environment.

Dr. Jonathan Frantz of the USDA-ARS in Toledo, Ohio continues to lead the development of Virtual Grower.  Contributors who also were recognized include Lee Buckingham and Bryon Hand (software developers at USDA-ARS), Erik Runkle (lead crop developer at Michigan State University), and Deanna Bobak (instructional video creator at USDA-ARS).  Numerous additional growers and scientists have made valuable contributions to the software since it was first introduced in 2006.

Frantz and Runkle collaborated on this project in part through the USDA Floriculture and Nursery Research Initiative.  They are part of the Floriculture Research Alliance, which is a group of faculty at five universities and the USDA who partners with industry stakeholders to develop science-based solutions to sustainability issues for floriculture. 

To learn more about this group, visit http://floriculturealliance.org.

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