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Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA): A Sustainable & Opportunistic Future of Farming

Published Date: 26th Apr 2022

With the exponentially rising population, the food consumption levels are also escalating dramatically worldwide and putting immense pressure on farmers to meet these requirements. Yet, surging concerns over water scarcity & food shortage, despite a substantial amount of land devoted solely to agriculture, are instigating the need for solutions that can address these issues & support the massive food production globally.

Issues like rapid climatic changes, rising water scarcity levels, environmental deterioration worldwide, etc., are compelling farmers to use chemicals for enhanced agricultural output. However, the growing implication of chemicals is affecting people's health and, in turn, infusing the demand for organic crop production. Not only that, but the utilization of chemicals is also affecting the soil and compromising the natural ecosystem. It is why farming methods like Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) are becoming crucial in the agricultural sector globally.

Defining Controlled Environment Agriculture

Controlled Environment Agriculture methods enable farmers to grow crops in a closed ecosystem, reduce the possibilities of diseases & pests, and maximize the overall farm efficiency while bringing sustainability & higher yields. Additionally, as CEA eliminates wastage of prominent ingredients, it also reduces the overall production cost for farmers.

CEA also employs several automation techniques to have greater control over different farming activities like managing & monitoring soil health, humidity, carbon dioxide levels, light, temperature, and nutrition, among others. It, in turn, enables farmers to produce specialized crops for industries like pharmaceuticals & nutraceuticals. Based on these aspects, the Global Controlled Environment Agriculture Market is anticipated to observe around 25.71% CAGR during 2022-27.

Controlled Environment Agriculture: Different Growing Methods

Controlled Environment Agriculture is observing growing recognition & adoption across different countries worldwide and has become a sought-after method in the farming sector. There are various types of growing methods under the umbrella of Controlled Environment Agriculture. Let us read further to find out more about these methods in the blog. 

  • Hydroponics

One of the most popular & widely adopted farming methods under Controlled Environment Agriculture is the Hydroponic method. This method is known for not using any soil for the production of crops. Instead, an alternate medium like sand, coconut fiber, etc., is utilized to hold the plants & provide suitable nourishment. In the process, the plants are provided oxygen & nutrients manually by the farmers, which makes the process highly controlled & well-managed.

Hence, it is also one of the most sustainable farming methods compared with the conventional methods. Crops like lettuce, peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, watercress, strawberries, celery, and herbs among others, are some examples that are grown using the Hydroponic method. Some popular subsections of hydroponic farming include Flood & Drain Farming, Deep Water Culture, Wick Farming, Nutrient Film Technique, etc.

  • Aquaponics

Another prominent growing method in Controlled Environment Agriculture includes Aquaponic, which is pretty similar to Hydroponic, besides being a combination of growing crops & practicing aquaculture altogether. In the method, the waste produced by the fishes is utilized to offer nourishment to the plants.

It is considered a practical & beneficial method as the wastes produced by the fishes grown in one tank are offered to the plants growing in the other, building a self-sustaining ecosystem. As the fish waste is rich in urea & ammonium, it acts as a natural fertilizer for plants. In the process, the most commonly employed fishes include trout, tilapia, perch, and catfish. 

  • Aeroponics

Nonetheless, while some may find hydroponic a fascinating production method, have you ever thought of growing crops with minimal need for water? Aeroponics is one such Controlled Environment Agriculture method that helps in the production of crops without the use of soil & minimal use of water. In the process, the plants are put together in a manner to release the roots into the air from where the farmers spray the nutrient-rich water at timely intervals.

As these roots receive the mist in a controlled environment, the production continues as usual. While the concerns over environmental degradation are escalating swiftly, Aeroponics is anticipated to become a prominent solution to address the issues and bring sustain the resources to a great extent. In fact, this technique is used extensively in greenhouses utilizing sunlight. Aeroponics is one the most water-efficient methods of agriculture, making it ideal for farming across arid regions and locations with water scarcity. 

Wrapping Up

The factors cited above indicate that CEA is about giving control into the hands of farmers for crop management using different growing methods and enhancing their production capacities to suffice the burgeoning requirements of the exponentially rising population without any wastage & environmental effects. In fact, CEA also facilitates farmers to have multiple sources of income.

As a result, it is becoming more of a necessity to promote environmental sustainability in the agricultural sector, produce crops in a controlled environment, & generate higher hield with maximum productivity, on the basis of which the Global Controlled Environment Agriculture Market would notably expand in the years to come.

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