Controlled Environment Agriculture
Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) is a technology-based approach to food production and farming that allows farmers/growers/food producers and agri-tech businesses to optimize their growing conditions and resource management.
The purpose of the CEA program is to revitalize agricultural traditions and develop sustainable growing systems, methods and practices in controlled environment greenhouses using aquaponics and hydroponics that support local food systems and security, and promote economic development through food innovation and entrepreneurship in a manner that is ecologically, economically and culturally viable, socially just, sustainable, and regenerative for current and future generations.
Through hands-on and classroom training in greenhouse management, students pursuing a Controlled Environment Agriculture Certificate or an Associates of Applied Science Degree will learn how to raise fish in a controlled environment greenhouse, and how to control water, light, temperature, substrate, nutrients, and the atmosphere in order to maximize plant growth and yield.
Coursework explores greenhouse operations, multiple hydroponic systems and techniques, and the challenges of growing hydroponic plants from propagation to harvesting and marketing, resource conservation, integrated pest management and aquaponics. Aquaponics is a facet of Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture (IMTA), which joins the science of hydroponics (growing plants in water without soil) with the science of aquaculture (raising fish).
Students will gain experience with crop production from seed to harvest in a variety of culture methods and locations. Operations in the existing geodesic dome greenhouse will involve crop rotation, pest management and pollination/pruning.
Successful completion of the program prepares students to become greenhouse professionals with the knowledge and skills to work in hydroponic and aquaponic greenhouses for home/farm and commercial scale operations.
Agricultural managers with a focus on greenhouses or aquacultural operations earn a median salary of $33,178. Farm, greenhouse and nursery workers earn a median salary around $29,000. Job demand in this area is growing by 1 to 3% annually.