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Smart Controlled Environment Agriculture Systems

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Intensified farming heads indoors

Indoor agriculture may help intensify food production. An EU project and its foreign partners have developed sophisticated means of assessing and controlling indoor climate conditions in such farms.

Climate Change and Environment icon Climate Change and Environment

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) estimates that within 20 years the world must double food production, 80 % of which will come from intensification. However, recent unpredictable environmental factors have set back productivity, therefore part of the solution may be controlled environment agriculture (CEA), meaning indoor farming. The EU-funded SMART-CEA (Smart controlled environment agriculture systems) project recognised the urgent need to integrate the different research groups working in this field. Therefore, the initiative’s primary objective was to bring together an international and interdisciplinary group of research teams from Europe, the USA and South Korea, forming a Centre of Excellence (CoE). The CoE focused on innovative collaborative research in CEA production and on technology transfer. The consortium particularly aimed to increase sustainability, reduce ammonia and greenhouse emissions, and lower consumption of pesticides and fossil fuels. The general purpose was to produce healthy food that is traceable through the production chain. Project partners addressed the identified issues in CEA production systems, sharing the use of innovative technologies, methods and techniques. This approach has helped remove the barriers that currently hinder the spread and uptake of available knowledge in the field of new technologies applied to the CEA sector. Results included two computational fluid dynamics (CFD) models: one for livestock buildings, and one for greenhouses. The project assessed pesticide emissions from naturally ventilated greenhouses, plus tested climate and air quality in mechanically ventilated livestock buildings. Team members developed techniques and technologies for integrated control of greenhouses, as well as models for assessing animal diseases. Additionally, the study characterised ammonia emissions from livestock farms. The consortium has also organised eight joint research activities, five in Seoul, South Korea and three in Arizona, USA. Two workshops were organised entitled ′Sustainable livestock production′ and ′Towards a sustainable greenhouse production′ respectively. In total, 10 publications were submitted and published in international peer reviewed journals and 20 papers were presented at conferences. SMART-CEA facilitated and eliminated overlaps in research. It also made more efficient use of resources, thereby enabling researchers from across the world to work together and overcome common challenges.

Keywords

Controlled environment agriculture, SMART-CEA, greenhouse, livestock, air quality, ammonia emissions

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