Syngenta Opens RTP Lab
It's an acre under glass.
It's India. Or Brazil. Or Nebraska.
It's high-tech irrigation and feeding, environmentally friendly construction, and more light than you can imagine.
Its official name is the Advanced Crop Lab at Syngenta RTP Innovation Center. It opened Friday under sunny Carolina blue skies that obviated the need for greenhouse lights.
Not that you'd call this a greenhouse.
The crop lab gives Syngenta researchers the opportunity to test their seeds in climates around the world without ever leaving RTP. And if they want to see how a plant tolerates drought or fewer nutrients, they adjust some settings and observe what happens.
The goal of all of this research is to help farmers keep pace with global food demand, which is projected to at least double by 2050. Speakers included North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory, Agriculture Secretary Steve Troxler and U.S. Senator Kay Hagan. All noted the juxtaposition of North Carolina's heritage - a $77 billion agriculture industry - and up-and-coming strength - a $59 billion biotech sector - in solving this global challenge.
Touring the 136,000-square-foot facility was quite an experience. Visitors saw first-hand how the specially engineered glass let in more light, and the side panels reflected it back. Time in the greenhouse was limited to 20 minutes, and all the guests received sunscreen and sunglasses before entering.
Quipped several of the Syngenta leaders and tour guides:
"The future's so bright, we've gotta wear shades."