Current Research Objectives

  1. Evaluation and modeling of energy conservation strategies in horticultural production systems.

The objective is to evaluate the energy efficiency of current production practices and technologies in horticulture in order to optimize energy conservation and increase sustainability. Current production practices are diverse and require different farming technologies. Independent of the growing system, energy inputs have to be made in order to produce a crop. Currently in the US, the agrifood system accounts for about 19% of the energy dissipated in all economic sectors (Pimentel and Pimentel, 2008). With the proper use of technology and farming practices, energy input can be minimized.


  1. Light-plant interactions: Light environment manipulation to improve plant production systems

The objective is to use alternative technologies to manipulate horticultural light environments in order to increase production, improve plant quality, reduce energy consumption, and increase profitability of horticultural systems. LEDs can have a customized spectral output that can improve plant production, desirable plant morphology, and growing energy efficiencies. The electrical efficiencies of LEDs (µmol·J-1) are higher or equal than the current horticultural lighting technology and light output per diode is expected to increase 20x and decrease in cost 10x in the next 10 years (Haitz & Tsao, 2011). This research program focuses on the manipulation of light to improve horticultural systems sustainability.


  1. Sustainable and organic horticultural production of specialty crops under controlled environment

Most commercial organic crop production is based in open field cropping systems.  Producers using controlled environment such as high-tunnels, greenhouses, and vertical farms (VF) have an interest in producing crops organically in order to capitalize in the premium market prices. However, organic production in controlled environments is limited due to several challenges such as; lack of comprehensive organic nutrient plans, lower yields under organic production, challenges in biofilm management, and lack of the crop specific optimal growing systems. The objective for this research is to evaluate current organic specialty crop production under controlled environment systems.