COLLEGE STATION, Texas — The Texas A&M University Controlled Environment Agriculture Program in the Department of Horticultural Sciences is taking the outside in and preparing Aggie students for the future of farming
Controlled-Environment Agriculture is a technology-based approach to food production that provides crops with protection from the outdoor elements to maintain optimal growing conditions.
"It is the future of agriculture for specialty food crops like leafy greens and tomatoes," Texas A&M Assistant Professor Shuyang Zhen said. "Those are valued nutritious food crops."
The cultivation of agricultural crops in a controlled environment is now becoming increasingly important in the battle against climate change and food scarcity.
"We can create an optimized environment for the crops, so they can grow really fast and they can have better quality or we can really reduce the use of pesticide," Zhen said.
Over the last two years, Texas A&M has invested in providing courses to teach students about controlled environment principles and methods such as hydroponics, aeroponics, and vertical farming to prepare students for the future of farming.
"I wanted to look into options to help handle food security and climate change, that would really benefit people more directly than some of the other research opportunities," TAMU Undergrad Jarrad Lake said.
The hydroponic course Dr. Zhen teaches is now open for enrollment starting in the fall 2023 semester
"Controlled environment technique can also benefit open field production by facilitating a lot of the research efforts in developing improved crop varieties for open field production," Zhen said.