Innovative horticultural technologies hold potential to aid in reducing poverty, improving nutrition and health, and improving sustainability and profitability of horticulture activities. The UC Davis D-Lab team works with the Horticulture Innovation Lab's Regional Centers to train students in ongoing innovation processes and design-for-development thinking.
Previously, this project's international teams established D-Lab curricula at the Panamerican Agricultural School, Zamorano, in Honduras and at Kasetsart University in Thailand to support ongoing innovation processes and to promote design-for-development thinking among future agricultural leaders.
In this project, the UC Davis D-Lab team and the Regional Center teams are collaborating to improve D-Lab course implementation, refine processes of appropriate technology selection, and build the capacity of university instructors to effectively deliver curriculum. The team is also building a toolkit that compiles a curriculum from D-Lab and Horticulture Innovation Lab partnerships that will be accessible to other universities and partner organizations. The toolkit will focus on three areas:
- project framing using D-Lab's "four lenses of sustainability" framework
- feasibility studies that incorporate basic engineering, social science and economics
- prototyping processes (design, build test)
In addition to improving the courses, the UC Davis D-Lab team works with Regional Center teams to conduct feasibility studies, technical assessments, and design development on horticulture-focused technologies such as the DryCard moisture sensor, low-energy coolrooms, solar dryers with drawers, and wash stations with rainwater harvesters.
At UC Davis, the D-Lab team assesses and improves new technologies with local partners before these technologies are disseminated to the Horticulture Innovation Lab's Regional Centers. These technologies include improving the spreadsheet cost analysis calculator for cold storage systems with the CoolBot, and establishing a low-cost insulation demonstration on the UC Davis campus.