'Planet earth has been refining mechanisms for millions of years, we just have to learn from them'
For the first time, I interviewed someone for the blog and the lucky one was a PhD holder and event attendee. We have met in June 2018 in Amsterdam and the event was called Greentech. Greentech is focused in the latest developments and innovations of the horticulture industry. Production technology and sustainable production are its motto.
Her name is Sabrina Carvalho, she is a Portuguese scientist and she holds a PhD in Ecology and Spectroscopy from the U. of Wageningen in the Netherlands. She is focused in Plant Biology and Spectral Data. Her task is to investigate and innovate in this area and for this reason, discussing and exchanging ideas with specialists at Greentech serves a very useful purpose. Inspiration, curiosity and finding answers to current problems in the sector are a few of the reasons why she participates.
What is plant biology and spectroscopy? You ask.
I asked her myself. Plant biology studies the biological processes of plants, how they live, how they interact with other plants and animals, how they react to light, etc. It helps in understanding what is affected in the plant growth process and why they become such plants and gain such forms. Spectroscopy applied to plants measures their reactions in different scenarios and helps scientists understand and analyse the state they are in.
In 2007, during her studies she used spectroscopy techniques that led her to precision farming and sustainability. Later she was invited by Coolfarm to develop growing techniques in urban settings. Coolfarm is a Portuguese ensemble of horticulture engineers that develop solutions to grow fresh food in controlled environments from the city of Coimbra, Portugal.
Spectroscopy applied to plants measures their reactions in different scenarios and helps scientists understand and analyse the state they are in.
Sabrina referred three main aspects that captivated her the most in her studies: first, the chance of learning what plants really like, do and the core about their biology. Being able to manage resources according to their needs. Then, being aware of the limits of technology and where it led us. Understanding what computational technology has brought to biology. Finally, the capacity of human beings to replicate natural climates in controlled environments. Urban areas being able to provide and maintain plant favourable atmospheres. This, she explained, is indoor farming and technology in full swing.
I dared to ask her how she sees investigation on plant biology and spectroscopy in 10 years’ time.
She sees it as multidisciplinary. She sees robotics, computation, bioinformatics and biology specialists working together. Agriculture increasingly becoming biotechnological, humans becoming more efficient in food production and raising its quality standards. She added that large volumes of biological, climatic and geographical data allowing a deeper analysis of procedures, will take agriculture to the next levels.
Sabrina finished our interview saying that urban ecology will bring back ecosystems to cities and new principles to its people. Above all, technology will bring more value to the knowledge we have achieved so far. Quoting, “planet earth has been refining mechanisms for millions of years, we just have to learn from them”.