LESA and the Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) team at Cornell University have been awarded a $2.42M research program under the NSF “Innovation at the Nexus of Food, Energy and Water” (INFEWS) program. The awarded research project, Strategic FEW and Workforce Investments to Enhance Viability of Controlled Environment Agriculture in Metropolitan Areas, will develop a multi-dimensional toolkit to guide the development of metropolitan based CEA. The growth systems, operating guidelines and workforce development programs that will be developed in this research is part of a broad collaboration between LESA and Cornell University exploring the future of advanced CEA systems as part of advancing sustainable urban food supplies. This new INFEWS award augments the systems that will be developed by $5M GLASE consortium led by LESA and Cornell and funded by NYSERDA specifically for reducing the carbon footprint of modern greenhouse systems.
At LESA, this new project will be led by Dr. Tessa Pocock, a global expert on photobiology and relationships between lighting and plant physiology who will work on the effect of LED light programs on water use efficiency and nutrient content of crop plants. In parallel, Professor Marianne Nyman in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Rensselaer will be developing new methods for assessing plant nutrient content to quantify CEA growth system performance. Together, they will work with the world class team of CEA experts led by Professor Neil Mattson at Cornell on CEA economic modeling, system design and workforce development that will advance the future of metropolitan food production.