Controlled Environment Agriculture Systems - (15 credits)

Sustainable production will be fundamental to meet the food requirements of our future generations. There has been increasing pressure to reduce adverse environmental impacts and the carbon footprint throughout the agri-food chain. Adding to this, with Brexit and COVID-19 affecting food production and imports, the need to find more sustainable solutions is more important than ever. The UK ‘Agricultural Act 2020’ aims to reward farmers for environmental protection and increasing sustainable productivity while shifting towards net zero. The ‘Farm to Fork’ strategy published by European Commission in May 2020, outlining ambitious 2030 targets for reducing chemical pesticide use (50%), reducing nutrient losses (50%), reducing fertiliser use (20%) and landscape diversification (10%). Achieving these ambitious targets will require innovation in cropping intensity and resource efficiency, while ensuring food remains affordable for everyone. Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) currently provides a set of tools to help achieve these targets. CEA is the production of crops under protected environment such as highly controlled conditions in greenhouses or indoor spaces (e.g. vertical farms). CEA optimises inputs such as water, crop protection products and energy/labour, with the aim of maximising crop quality/quantity, as well as extending the cropping season. To meet the climate change challenge, it is important that growers, researchers and CEA technologists interact with wider food systems. The module will allow students to become familiar with key technologies/tools provided by CEA. They will also gain a better understanding of CEA’s role in green potential as well as the difficulties and emerging opportunities such as hybrid systems. This fundamental insight will allow students to further improve their CEA related credentials and scale up in harmony with a UK food system.