An Opportune Moment Amidst the Climate Crisis: Why Conventional Farmers Should Get Involved in CEA

Written by: Niko Simos

March 23, 2023

As farmers worldwide grow increasingly concerned by climate change, it is critical to adopt new practices that ensure the sustainability of their crops and land. One way farmers can increase their resilience is controlled environment agriculture (CEA), which can help to optimize their operations, and mitigate the effects of climate change. In this blog post, we'll explore the benefits of CEA and why conventional farmers should consider getting involved in this type of agriculture.

One of the biggest challenges that the agricultural industry faces today is the climate and weather volatility as a result of elevated levels of atmospheric CO2 from traditional farming practices. According to OurWorldInData, agriculture, forestry, and land use directly account for 18.4% of greenhouse gas emissions – conventional farming methods such as tractor usage and fertilizer production rely heavily on fossil fuels, and approximately 90% of global deforestation is caused by agriculture. CEA offers the potential for more sustainable and efficient practices for farmers who are seeking to reduce their agricultural carbon footprint and help to mitigate the effects of climate change.

Controlled Environment Agriculture 101

CEA is a rapidly growing industry that utilizes technology to optimize plant growth in indoor or protected outdoor environments. Farmers have the ability to control environmental factors such as temperature, humidity, light, and air quality inside the growing facility. This is especially beneficial in regions where the climate is not suitable for certain crops. By controlling these factors, farmers can create an ideal growing environment for the plants, regardless of the conditions outside. 

Hydroponics is one of the most popular soilless forms of CEA. Hydroponics is a method of growing plants in a nutrient-rich solution, rather than in soil. This method is well-suited to areas with water scarcity or soil contamination. Through controlling nutrient intake, hydroponics can increase crop yield and quality, and can be widely applied and tailored to a range of crops including leafy greens, herbs, fruits, and vegetables. 

CEA offers specific benefits such as:

#1: Precision agriculture: CEA systems use sensors and monitoring systems to collect data on factors such as soil moisture, nutrient levels, and temperature. This data can be used to create detailed maps of the growing environment, which can help farmers to identify and target specific inputs, thus allowing them to reduce the overall amount of water and fertilizer needed to produce a crop.

#2: Closed-loop systems: CEA systems can be designed as closed-loop systems, in which the water and nutrient solutions are recycled, reducing the need for additional inputs and removing the costly economic and environmental challenge of agricultural runoff. 

#3: Automation: CEA systems can be automated to control water and nutrient delivery as well as other environmental factors such as temperature, humidity, light, and air quality, reducing the need for manual adjustments.

#4: Temperature: CEA systems use heating and cooling systems to maintain a specific temperature range that is optimal for the growth of plants, which is especially important for crops that are sensitive to temperature fluctuations.

#5: Humidity: CEA systems use humidifiers and dehumidifiers to control the humidity levels inside the grow facility. 

#6: Light: CEA systems can use artificial lighting systems to aid in providing the plants with the proper amount of light for optimal growth. 

#7: Air quality: CEA systems can use filters and ventilation systems inside the growing facility to maintain air quality, including specific levels of CO2, and other gasses critical to optimal plant growth.

CEA is a complex system that requires a significant investment of time, money, and resources, but there are skilled professionals who can help farmers make informed decisions about their investments and ensure effective resource use. By consulting with experts, farmers can learn about the latest advancements in CEA technology and how to best apply these technologies to their operations. Consultations provide farmers with a roadmap for success while also proactively identifying potential problems and providing innovative solutions. With proper support and resources, farmers can profitably achieve their goals in the world of CEA. For only 29 dollars, Agritecture Designer provides the simplest and fastest way to begin your CEA systems education. 

As the world grapples with the climate crisis, it is essential for farmers to do their part in the mitigation effort and consider transitioning towards more resilient and efficient practices such as those offered by controlled environment agriculture. CEA technologies offer numerous benefits in terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving food security, and protecting natural resources. Through embracing data, computational tools, and optimized operations, farmers can help to build a more sustainable and resilient food system for the future. As temperatures rise and weather patterns become more unpredictable, it is increasingly more important for farmers to be able to predict and plan for these changes. 


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