His presentations on "Tomorrow's Agriculture Today" have intrigued audiences at banquets, conventions, management and service clubs and business conferences throughout the world. Aside from publishing a wide array of research and technical articles and books, his research and development projects have been featured in such publications as New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Farm Journal, National Geographic, People, Time-Life books, Life Magazine, just to name a few.
Merle attended Washington State University, graduated from California State Polytechnic University with a Bachelor's degree and went on to receive his M.S. degree from Cornell University and his Ph.D from Rutgers.
Dr. Merle Jensen has devoted his career to controlled environment agriculture, designing intensive food production systems ranging in application from our Planet to Planet Mars. He has personally traveled to over 50 countries demonstrating the application of technologies that he and his colleagues researched and developed at The University of Arizona.
While retired from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at The University of Arizona, he continues to serve as an adviser to many companies and individuals and governments on controlled environment agriculture on projects ranging from the development potential of agriculture as part of the Peace Initiative for the Middle East, to the development of the agricultural systems for "The Land" at EPCOT, Walt Disney World, on which project he was the team leader.
Mr. Gerhart founded Greenhouse Vegetable Consultants to assist people in CEA or those considering entering the industry. He has extensive experience in the economics of the greenhouse vegetable industry developing business plans and pro-formas from small growers to large corporations in need of understanding the true potential of their unique greenhouses. He also offers advice in many areas of greenhouse vegetable production from management practices to expert witness for numerous defendants and plaintiffs testifying on greenhouse profit and loss, yields and facility operations. These diversified greenhouse projects are located throughout the world.
Mr. Ken Gerhart, Dr. Merle Jensen, Ms. Karin Tifft, and Ms. Stephanie Motz are a creative consulting team to advise and support greenhouse owners, growers, and managers in order to improve their bottom line.
Mr. Ken Gerhart has been involved with CEA projects for 40 years. As a commercial grower of greenhouse vegetables, he has extensive hands-on experience with many types of greenhouses. He has managed large commercial facilities [40 plus acres] growing many varieties of vegetables in soil, NFT, peatlite, perlite, rockwool and coco-coir. Additionally, he has focused on utilization of alternate sources of fossil fuel such as geothermal and the secondary use of fossil fuel from electrical power generation for heating greenhouses. Mr. Gerhart has over three decades of experience utilizing high-pressure fog for evaporative cooling and humidification.
Early in his career Ken was involved in the commercial introduction and development of the European cucumber in the United States.
Ms. Karin Tifft has over 18 years’ experience in greenhouse pest and disease management. Karin develops site-specific pest management guidelines for GVC clients based on location, crops, and the client’s pest management goals (organic, pesticide-free, conventional). Ms. Tifft's guidelines include how to scout, beneficial introduction schedules, crop hygiene, equipment recommendations and pesticide information. She also makes site visits for on-site diagnosis and training.
Previously, Ms. Tifft was employed by a large hydroponic tomato and cucumber grower where she revamped the IPDM Department by developing new scouting guidelines, mapping, record keeping, and training procedures. She designed methods to accurately budget and allocate costs to determine the most cost-effective pest and disease management strategies. These techniques resulted in significant cost savings and increased production for the grower.
Ms. Stephanie Motz
Karin has a Master’s of Science in Entomology from the University of Florida and an Bachelor’s of Science in Plant Sciences from the University of Arizona where she studied hydroponics under Dr. Merle Jensen. She has developed 2 beneficial insect rearing systems for greenhouse pests and also raised Eretmocerus and Encarsia for whitefly control while a student at the University of Arizona.
Ms. Stephanie Motz has 20 years of experience growing brands and revenues. During thirteen-years at The Richards Group, Steph advised billion-dollar retail clients like H-E-B Grocery Stores, Central Market, Grocery Outlet and The Container Store. She is well-versed in launching consumer food products for H-E-B and building retail programs for packaged goods producers like Fruit of the Loom and American Greetings. Her list of restaurant clients is extensive.
Steph founded and sold an agency serving Cargill’s Rumba Specialty Meats, Red Mango, AT&T Performing Arts Center, and American Institute of Architects—Dallas. She went on to start and sell a luxury shoe company, Uwezo Brands; help Helzberg Diamonds make their customer insights operational for store managers; and partnered in the launch of an investment firm, Lorintine Capital. While earning her MBA at Texas Tech she worked as a change management data analyst at the Texas Center for Innovative Organizations.