Controlled environment agriculture, including greenhouses and indoor production facilities, is becoming an increasingly important part of the global food system. Totally enclosed, indoor vegetable growing facilities were developed in Japan beginning
Marc W. van Iersel, Geoffrey Weaver, Michael T. Martin, Rhuanito S. Ferrarezi, Erico Mattos, and Mark Haidekker
Norman R. Scott, Corinne Johnson Rutzke, and Louis D. Albright
One of the deterrents to the commercial adoption of controlled-environment agriculture (CEA) on a broad scale is the significant energy cost for lighting and thermal environmental control. Advances in energy conversion technologies, such as internal combustion engines (ICs), microturbines and fuel cells, offer the potential for combined heat and power (CHP) systems, which can be matched with the needs of CEA to reduce fossil-based fuels consumption. A principal concept delineated is that an integrated entrepreneurial approach to create business and community partnerships can enhance the value of energy produced (both electrical and heat). Energy production data from a commercial dairy farm is contrasted with energy use data from two greenhouse operations with varying energy-input requirements. Biogass produced from a 500-cow dairy combined with a 250-kW fuel cell could meet nearly all of the energy needs of both the dairy and an energy-intensive 740-m2 CEA greenhouse lettuce facility. The data suggest CEA greenhouses and other closely compatible enterprises can be developed to significantly alter agriculture, as we have known it.
Harry Janes, James Cavazzoni, Guna Alagappan, David Specca, and Joseph Willis
A qualitative systems approach to controlled environment agriculture (CEA) is presented by means of several multi-institutional projects integrated into a demonstration greenhouse at the Burlington County Resource Recovery Complex (BCRRC), N.J. The greenhouse has about 0.4 ha of production space, and is located about 800 m from the about 40-ha BCRRC landfill site. A portion of the landfill gas produced from the BCRRC site is used for microturbine electricity generation and for heating the greenhouse. The waste heat from the turbines, which are roughly 15 m from the greenhouse, is used as the main heat source for the greenhouse in the winter months, and to desalinate water when heating is not required. Recovery of this waste heat increases the energy efficiency of the four 30-kW turbines from about 25% to 75%. Within the greenhouse, aquaculture and hydroponic crop production are coupled by recycling the aquaculture effluent as a nutrient source for the plants. Both the sludge resulting from the filtered effluent and the inedible biomass from harvested plants are vermicomposted (i.e., rather than being sent to the landfill), resulting in marketable products such as soil amendments and liquid plant fertilizer. If suitably cleaned of contaminants, the CO2 from the landfill gas may be used to enrich the plant growing area within the greenhouse to increase the yield of the edible products. Landfill gas from the BCRRC site has successfully been processed to recover liquid commercial grade CO2 and contaminant-free methane-CO2, with the potential for this gas mixture to be applied as a feedstock for fuel cells or for methanol production. Carbon dioxide from the turbine exhaust may also be recovered for greenhouse enrichment. Alternatively, algal culture may be used to assimilate CO2 from the turbine exhaust into biomass, which may then be used as a biofuel, or possibly as fish feed, thus making the system more self-contained. By recycling energy and materials, the system described would displace fossil fuel use, mitigating negative environmental impacts such as greenhouse gas emissions, and generate less waste in need of disposal. Successful implementation of the coupled landfill (gas-to-energy · aquaponic · desalination) system would particularly benefit developing regions, such as those of the Greater Caribbean Basin.
Robert W. Langhans and Mauricio Salamanca
With the primary objective of assuring food safety at the production level, a HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) plan was developed and implemented in an 8000-ft2 greenhouse producing 1000 heads of lettuce per day in Ithaca, N.Y. The plan was developed following the HACCP principles and application guidelines published by the National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria for Foods (1997). The CEA glass greenhouse uses both artificial high-pressure sodium lamps and a shade curtain for light control. Temperature is controlled via evaporative cooling and water heating. Lettuce plants are grown in a hydroponic pond system and are harvested on day 35 from day of seeding. Known and reasonable risks from chemical, physical, and microbiological hazards were defined during the hazard analysis phase. Critical control points were identified in the maintenance of the pond water, the operation of evaporative coolers, shade curtains, and during harvesting and storage. Appropriate prerequisite programs were implemented before the HACCP plan as a baseline for achieving minimum working conditions. Proper critical limits for some potential hazards were established and monitoring programs set up to control them. Postharvest handling was setup in an adjacent head house that was adapted as a food manufacturing facility according to New York State Dept. of Agriculture and Markets standards. Potential applications will be discussed.
Mary A. Rogers
Organic vegetable production under glass or in other protected environments, hereto referred as controlled-environment agriculture (CEA) is growing, according to the 2014 census of organic agriculture reported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture
Chieri Kubota, Cynthia A. Thomson, Min Wu, and Jamal Javanmardi
extended to Controlled Environment Agriculture Program and EuroFresh Farms for the technical and financial support.
Jonathan M. Frantz, Cary A. Mitchell, and Jay Frick
A solid-matrix-over-liquid (hybrid) growth system was developed for direct sowing of small-seeded crop species into hydroponic culture and compared for performance with a standard solid-matrix, capillary-wick hydroponic system. Seeds were sown directly onto a 3-cm (1.2-inch) deep soilless seed bed occupying 0.147 m2 (1.582 ft2) within a tray. The planted seed bed was moistened by wicking up nutrient solution through polyester wicking material from a 7.0-L (6.6-qt) reservoir just below the matrix seed bed. The hybrid system successfully grew dense [435 plants/m2 (40.4 plants/ft2)], uniform canopies of dwarf Brassica napus L. in a controlled-environment growth room. Seed yield using the hybrid system was twice that achieved with the matrix-based system. Both systems eliminated the labor needed to transplant many small seedlings from a separate nurse bed into a standard bulk liquid hydroponic system. Root-zone pH extremes caused by ion uptake and exchange between roots and unrinsed soilless media were avoided for the hybrid system by the short dwell time of roots in the thin matrix before they grew through the matrix and an intervening headspace into the bulk solution below, where pH was easily managed. Once roots grew into the bulk solution, its level was lowered, thereby cutting off further capillary wicking action and drying out the upper medium. Beyond early seedling establishment, water and nutrients were provided to the crop stand only by the bulk nutrient solution. This hybrid hydroponic system serves as a prototype for largerscale soilless growth systems that could be developed for production of smallseeded crops in greenhouses or controlled environments.
Heidi C. Anderson, Mary A. Rogers, and Emily E. Hoover
Consumer demand for local and organic strawberries (Fragaria ×ananassa) is increasing. Growers who can meet this demand have a competitive edge in the direct-to-consumer market. Innovations in strawberry production for northern climates offer new opportunities for growers to meet the demand for local organic strawberries. Typically adopted for season extension, the use of poly-covered tunnels for crop protection provides other benefits including protection from adverse weather. Low tunnels are easy to install, low cost, temporary protective structures that are well-adapted for annual day-neutral strawberry production, and they are more space efficient than high tunnels for these low-stature crops. A range of specialty tunnel plastics that modify and diffuse light are available, but there is little information on how these influence strawberry plant growth and performance in the field. Our objectives were to determine the effects of experimental ultraviolet blocking and transmitting plastics on light and microclimate in low tunnel environments and assess differences in fruit yield and quality in the day-neutral strawberry cultivar Albion in an organic production system. This research was conducted on U.S. Department of Agriculture-certified organic land over 2 years, in 2016 and 2017. We found that ultraviolet intensity and daily light integral (DLI) were lower in covered plots than in the open field. Maximum daily temperatures were slightly higher in covered plots. Both ultraviolet-blocking and ultraviolet-transmitting plastics improved marketable fruit yield compared with the open-field control. Strawberries grown in the open-field treatment were lower in chroma than covered plots in 2017, and there was no difference in total soluble solids between treatments in either year. Low tunnel systems allow for increased environmental control and improved fruit quality and are well-adapted for day-neutral organic strawberry production systems.
Samuel E. Wortman, Michael S. Douglass, and Jeffrey D. Kindhart
Demand for local food, including strawberries (Fragaria ×ananassa), is increasing throughout the United States. Strawberry production in the midwestern United States can be challenging due to the relatively short growing season and pests. However, vertical, hydroponic, high tunnel production systems could extend the growing season, minimize pest incidence, and maximize strawberry yield and profitability. The objectives of this study were to 1) identify the best cultivars and growing media for vertical, hydroponic, high tunnel production of strawberries in the midwestern United States and to 2) assess potential strategies for replacing synthetic fertilizer with organic nutrient sources in hydroponic strawberry production. To accomplish these objectives, three experiments were conducted across 2 years and two locations in Illinois to compare 11 strawberry cultivars, three soilless media mixtures, and three nutrient sources. Strawberry yield was greatest when grown in perlite mixed with coco coir or vermiculite and fertilized with a synthetic nutrient source. Yield was reduced by up to 15% when fertilized with a bio-based, liquid nutrient source and vermicompost mixed with soilless media. Strawberry yield among cultivars varied by year and location, but Florida Radiance, Monterey, Evie 2, Portola, and Seascape were among the highest-yielding cultivars in at least one site-year. Results contribute to the development of best management practices for vertical, hydroponic, high tunnel strawberry production in the midwestern United States, but further research is needed to understand nutrient dynamics and crop physiological response among levels within vertical, hydroponic towers.