COLUMBUS, OHIO—The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) is leading a research and development project to help greenhouse growers create the most ideal growing environment using real-time data and climate optimization processes. The U.S. Department of Agriculture awarded a $3.77 million grant to study controlled environment agriculture (CEA), a process that extends the growing season, reduces waste, and yields more crops that are higher in quality by controlling environmental factors such as temperature, light, and nutrients.
CFAES will spearhead the four-year study with collaboration from Rutgers; Cornell; University of Arizona; and Koidra, a company specializing in tools that help greenhouse and indoor growers manage crops using data and technologies such as sensors, artificial intelligence, and machine learning. Chieri Kubota, a CFAES professor of horticulture and crop science will lead the project with A.J. Both, professor of environmental sciences at Rutgers University.
“This grant will help us pioneer controlled environment agriculture in the United States,” said Kubota, who also is the director of the Ohio Controlled Agriculture Center (OHCEAC). “Currently, domestic growers rely on technologies developed primarily in the Netherlands, which adheres to different design standards, measurement units, and government regulations, thus causing delays in the adaptation of new technologies in the United States.”
The study aims to meet the following four objectives:
- Develop a data- and model-driven decision-making platform.
- Validate the efficacy of new data- and model-driven decision making.
- Understand the socioeconomics of greenhouse technology adaptation.
- Engage stakeholders through professional learning opportunities for workforce development.
CFAES will conduct research in the new, state-of-the-art Controlled Environment Agriculture Research Complex (CEARC), a one-of-a-kind greenhouse that will be at the forefront of controlled environment food production research. The greenhouse is part of CFAES’ Waterman Agricultural and Natural Resources Laboratory, a unique facility that serves as a university hub for teaching, research, and community engagement.
The CEA project is one of 25 grants awarded by the USDA to address the key challenges of national, regional, and multistate importance in sustaining all components of food and agriculture, including conventional and organic food production systems.