Published on 10/15/15

UGA ag school cuts ribbon on net zero research home on campus in Tifton

By Clint Thompson

The Future Farmstead, a model home for energy-efficient housing, was on display Wednesday, Oct. 14, as part of a dedication ceremony on the University of Georgia Tifton Campus.

“This is a culmination of very hard work from a number of people, certainly being led by Dr. Craig Kvien – a dreamer who makes things happen. It’s a test bed for technology and a great example of what’s out there for home builders, farmers and people interested in a sustainable lifestyle,” said Joe West, UGA Tifton Campus assistant dean. “It’s very rewarding to see it finished and to see it put into use.”

West and Josef Broder, interim dean of the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, as well as state political leaders, were on hand to witness the dedication of this one-of-a-kind, futuristic house.

Kvien, a UGA Tifton Campus professor, helped design and construct the farmstead from its inception.

“The farmstead incorporates many examples of UGA’s leadership in research, Extension and teaching. It is a very special place,” Kvien said. “Students are living in the house, aiding in the collection of data, giving tours and helping the house stay on the cutting edge of technology.”

The farmstead houses innovative technologies from more than 40 companies. Recycled blue jeans and closed-cell foam help insulate the 4,000-square-foot house. Solar panels harness and convert the sun’s natural energy. Electrical use is surveyed through a home-based monitoring and control system.

“The Future Farmstead, even though it’s the farmstead of the present, is really as futuristic as we can get right now. That’s the neat thing about it. It will continue to evolve as we go forward. Dr. Kvien has constructed it so that we can put in new technology, new sensing capabilities, things of that nature,” West said. “We’ve actually got a piece of the future right here, starting today.”

The Future Farmstead dedication included short remarks from noted political figures, including U.S. Rep. Austin Scott and Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black, and Jay Short, president of Short and Paulk Supply Company and a UGA CAES alumnus. Georgia Rep. and UGA CAES alumnus Sam Watson was slated to attend but was unable to due to farm business.

“Sam’s also a farmer and he had 3 semi-trucks lined up and they were busy picking squash. And that pays the bills,” said Black as he shared Watson’s regrets for not attending the event.

During this remarks, Black cited the farm’s innovativeness and praised UGA and the farmstead team.

“Planning for future needs, preparing for future challenges and taking advantage of the latest technology is critical to success in any industry, and agribusiness is no exception,” Black said. “However, it is even more imperative for the agricultural community because so many lives are dependent upon the very nature of our business—growing food. We already know the immense challenge that lies before us.”

Studies show that food production will have to increase 70 percent by 2050 to meet global demand, he said. “It is through innovative ideas and bold action, such as the Future Farmstead project, that we will overcome this challenge and do so responsibly,” Black said.

Black was especially complimentary of the edible landscape, which consists of seedless lemon and tangerine trees, developed by UGA plant breeding teams, a small vegetable garden and an aquaponics system. The system, a combination of fish and plant production, should generate enough food to feed a small family.

“I am proud of the proactive nature of UGA’s Future Farmstead team as well as its progressive response to farming challenges. I look forward to seeing the fruits that this project will bear,” Black said. “Just 61 years ago in Tifton County was the first year there were more tractors than mules in the fields, and today we are talking about net zero homes.”

Clint Thompson is an agriculture writer based in Tifton, Georgia.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.
Download Image