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August 29, 2022
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The Dirt: Biosphere 2 Crops Feed Students

The start of the semester last week saw students swarming across campus, looking for their lecture halls, sorting out their schedules, and searching for snacks.

Meanwhile, a crop of about 800 heads of red and green butter lettuce grown in a container farm at the University of Arizona’s Biosphere 2, the world’s largest controlled environment, was delivered to the Campus Pantry and the Impact of Southern Arizona community food bank. 

"We are excited to share our first crop to come out of Biosphere 2's Modular Container Farm, the Freight Farms Greenery S," said John Adams, deputy director of Biosphere 2. The produce is grown from non-genetically modified seeds and is herbicide and pesticide free.

Biosphere 2's container farm is a hydroponic system, growing plants in nutrient-rich water instead of soil, packing the equivalent crop production of 2.5 acres of farmland into a 320 square-foot space. A built-in dehumidifier recaptures and recycles water, helping the farm reduce water use by 99% compared with traditional agriculture, which enables water recapture and recycling.

The Biosphere 2 hydroponics system was acquired in part through a grant from the university's Campus Sustainability Fund. "This technology makes it possible to bring fresh food to an area where it might otherwise be impossible to grow and help to develop food of the future," Adams said.

Operated by the Associated Students of the University of Arizona, the Campus Pantry provides food assistance to anyone in need on the UArizona campus. Biosphere 2 plans to deliver fresh produce to the Campus Pantry every other week. Learn more.

Upcoming Events

Mark your calendars, and don't forget to register!

Wednesday, August 31

Indige-FEWSS Native Voices in STEM seminar presentation by Dr. Ryan Emanuel (Lumbee)

12:00–1:00PM     Join via zoom!
Find More Events

Environment in the News

Lightning strikes during a monsoon near Mayer, Arizona. Not only does monsoon season bring rains, but also lightning strikes that can start wildfires.
(Photo: Mario Tama, Getty Images)

Unlocking the secrets of the North American monsoon

By Amy McKeever, National Geographic | August 22

The U.S. Southwest relies on the increasingly erratic seasonal phenomenon to help fight wildfires and drought. Now researchers are getting better at predicting it. Read more >>

More Stories

University of Arizona students work with Indigenous communities on climate change challenges

The world’s roads aren’t ready for climate change

Their pleas for water were long ignored. Now tribes are gaining a voice on the Colorado River

Gulf of Mexico Methane Emissions Higher Than Other Onshore Oil and Gas Sites

Weed whackers on Tumamoc Hill get fresh batch of buffel cash
Dallas Flood: Vehicles Stranded, Water Rescues Underway Amid Historic Torrential Downpour

The Colorado River drought is coming for your winter veggies

$1.4M effort develops reusable sponges to soak up harmful chemicals from water

Tribes take a central role in water management as drought and climate change effects worsen

Monsoon moderate so far in 2022 but changes may be ahead
Find More News


Apply to Attend the Southwest Adaptation Forum 2022

The Southwest Climate Adaptation Science Center (SW CASC) is proud to be a host the 2022 Southwest Adaptation Forum (SWAF). The 2022 SWAF will explore topics relevant to adaptation practitioners in the Southwest, such as cultural burning, drought, and ecosystem transformation. SWAF will be held at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico, October 10-12, 2022. There will be no fee to attend. Apply here.

Campus Sustainability Fund Grant Applications

The Campus Sustainability Fund is pleased to announce that Preliminary Mini Grant applications are now open! All students, staff, and faculty are invited to submit proposals that advance environmental and social sustainability on campus. Visit for grant application details, resources, and to start your application today. 

Recipients of AIRES International Programs Grants!

AIRES International Programs selected three interdisciplinary working groups to support new, burgeoning, or existing collaborative research efforts that seek to engage in opportunities related to global resilience research and international development. Over the 2022-2023 academic year, the following groups will pursue unique activities that develop innovative ideas on resilience from diverse fields of inquiry with applications to international development.
  • Working Group on Resilience Informatics, Led by Sriram Iyengar
  • Media Development, Entrepreneurship, and Resilience in Yemen: A Working Research Group, Led by Jeannine Relly and Monica Chadha
  • International Working Group to Assess Flood Recovery, Adaptation, and Resilience from Space, Led by Hannah Friedrich, Beth Tellman & Adriana Zuniga-Teran

Registration Open for 18th Annual Research Insights in Semiarid Ecosystem Symposium

The 18th annual Research Insights in Semiarid Ecosystems (RISE) Symposium will be held Saturday, November 5, 2022, 8:30AM–3:30PM on the University of Arizona campus. The symposium will share recent results of research at the USDA-ARS Walnut Gulch Experimental Watershed and the UArizona Santa Rita Experimental Range, encourage future research activities, and promote these outdoor scientific laboratories. Learn more and register here.


Director, Cooperative Extension

The University of Arizona seeks a strategic and innovative leader to be the next Director of the UArizona Cooperative Extension System (CES). The CES Director is a senior executive leader who must work closely with various Directors, Academic Unit Heads, and other Leadership administrators. They must liaise with peers in other UArizona colleges, federal and state personnel, and other CES stakeholders, as well as represent the CES to elected and appointed officials. Learn more and apply.

Indigenous Correspondents Program

Planet Forward and UArizona have partnered to launch Ilíiaitchik: Indigenous Correspondents Program (ICP). The goal of the ICP is to empower the next generation of Indigenous scholars to share environmental stories and resilient solutions of relevance around the world. Students with an interest in environmental science and knowledge generation, resilient solutions, and effective storytelling are encouraged to apply for the 2022-2023 cohort.

Have an announcement to share?

Submit your announcement or event to be featured in The Dirt!
Did you know...?
Flash floods are common in Arizona during monsoon season and can occur after rainstorms, causing waters to rise within seconds. Learn more >>

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Land Acknowledgement
We respectfully acknowledge the University of Arizona is on the land and territories of Indigenous peoples. Today, Arizona is home to 22 federally recognized tribes, with Tucson being home to the O’odham and the Yaqui. Committed to diversity and inclusion, the University strives to build sustainable relationships with sovereign Native Nations and Indigenous communities through education offerings, partnerships, and community service.  
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