Controlled Environmental Use and Technology

When researchers want to study issues related to crop production, the environment, and dietary health, they conduct their research in “controlled environments” – carefully controlled settings where sound scientific data can be gathered and used to sustainably grow commercial crops as well as garden, nursery, and orchard plants. Controlled environments like greenhouses are becoming key tools in conducting this type of research; and NCERA 101 developed new greenhouses, including one in Louisiana that can withstand Category 4 hurricanes, a facility at the South Pole Station that produces fresh vegetables, and greenhouses in Alaska that use geothermal energy. Partnering with NASA and the Kennedy Space Center, NCERA-101 researchers have also designed technology for growing crops in the International Space Station. NCERA-101 members have developed better disease, weed, and pest control tactics, improved fertilization systems, and energy-saving irrigation systems, light fixtures, and temperature settings. The group has installed more precise sensors and online programs for operating controlled environments remotely and has developed software (Virtual Grower) which helps growers plan ahead and make good decisions.

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