Controlled Environment Agriculture
A mixture between an engineering and scientific approach, CEA enables farmers to maintain the ideal conditions for a crop inside a greenhouse
A management system controls all those variables to give the crop the ideal conditions, securing a predictable yield
It can also incorporate a hydroponic system or other variants (aquaponics, aeroponics) to maximise the output, while minimising the inputs
In this carefully maintained environment, the appearance of pests or disease that could damage the crops becomes rare, while the external weather won't impact the production
Hydroponics is the art of growing plants without soil, relying on a mineral nutrient solution.
Thus, in hydroponics, plants may be grown with their roots directly into the nutrient solutions with some help to support themselves or in an inert substrate such as perlite, rock-wool, clay or coconut fibre acting as an anchor.
Hydroponics offer a range of benefits over traditional farming which makes it more sustainable:
- It requires up to 90% less water.
- Yields can be 2 to 10 times higher, and are more stable.
- Vegetables grow in a shorter amount of time.
- Vegetables use half the amount of space (using vertical systems, this can be increased to up to 10 times less space)
- If the environment is well controlled, the vegetables can have better flavour and more vitamins and antioxidants.
- It can produce all-year-round.
- It protects vegetables from the damaging excess of excess UV radiation.
- No nutrition is released into the environment.
- Ease of harvesting.
- Less problems with bug infestations, fungi or diseases, which means no need for pesticides, fungicides or herbicides.