As the search for sustainable farming methods grows, advances in controlled environment agriculture do too.
In this article, you’ll learn about controlled environment agriculture and some of its benefits.
CEA is agriculture that uses tools, technology and strategies to cultivate crops in an enclosed environment.
In CEA, the growing conditions are monitored and regulated to help plants grow better.
In general, indoor farming is CEA.
This means everything from basements to large vertical farms are CEA.
CEA is implemented in pretty much any enclosed space.
This means spare rooms, warehouses, greenhouses, shipping containers and more all use CEA to grow crops.
CEA allows farmers to control many different parts of the growing environment.
CEA commonly controls variables like temperature, humidity, carbon dioxide, nutrient concentration, and light.
Farms use sensors and machines that can measure and regulate these factors.
CEA uses both complex high-tech systems and simple low-tech systems to regulate growing conditions.
For example, a simple system uses a hygrometer to measure the humidity of the grow space.
The system also uses a humidifier, to help the farmer maintain or adjust the humidity levels.
A complex system uses equipment that monitors all variables and regulates them automatically.
Controlled environment agriculture is commonly used with unconventional growing methods.
This includes methods like hydroponics, aeroponics and aquaponics.
While these methods can be used outdoors, they work better when used with CEA indoors.
CEA has so many benefits, it’d be hard to list out every single one.
But there are five benefits that are responsible for most of the other ones.
Those five benefits are:
- Allows farmers to create perfect growing conditions.
- Allows farmers to grow year-round.
- Prevents damage from weather, pests, and diseases.
- Uses less water, fertilizer, and pesticides.
- Allows farmers to grow anywhere.
And these five benefits lead to even more advantages!
One of the biggest benefits of CEA is higher yields.
Higher yields are the result of benefits 1, 2 and 3 from the list above.
Since farmers can create perfect growing conditions, the crops are healthier and grow faster.
This can help some crops yield more, than they would have without CEA.
And since farmers can grow year-round, the growing season gets extended.
As a result, the farmer can produce more food in one year.
Plus, since CEA protects crops from weather, pests and diseases, farmers lose fewer crops.
Droughts, floods, extreme temperatures, changing seasons, tornadoes and other storms destroy outdoor crops.
And in conventional farming, farmers lose anywhere from 40% to 80% of their crops to insects, weeds, diseases and animals globally.
Without those losses, farmers are able to produce more food to sell.
Having bigger yields helps farmers make more money.
But that’s not the only way CEA helps farmers increase their revenue.
Because CEA farmers grow year-round, they can produce food during seasons that conventional farmers in the area can’t.
This means a farmer can corner the locally grown food market during freezing winters.
Plus, farmers can grow anywhere, so they can grow luxury or exotic crops that aren’t suited to their climate.
This lets them offer a unique product in their area.
That’s not all.
CEA controls the growing conditions, so the quantity and quality of yields are reliable and consistent.
This cuts out some of the risks that conventional farmers often face.
These factors all help farmers make more money from their crops.
From this information, it seems like controlled environment agriculture is a no-brainer.
But there are a couple of barriers that stand in the way.
First, it’s usually more expensive to start and operate than outdoor growing.
Second, traditional methods of agriculture are common and at the core of our food system.
And people are generally uncomfortable with change, so it’s hard to imagine a new way of farming for some.
But most CEA experts and researchers don’t see it as a replacement for traditional agriculture.
Instead, it’s an innovative complement to traditional agriculture, opening up opportunities to solve many of the problems our current food system faces.
To learn more about how you can grow with CEA, call 602-753-3469 or visit our website.