Oct 22, 2021
USDA launches CEA study to develop new industry standards

As vertical farming and other forms of modern indoor agriculture continue to evolve and transform the food supply, the USDA Agricultural Research Service, USDA’s chief scientific in-house research agency, has launched an intensive study of controlled environment agriculture to establish data and science-based metrics and crop production standards for CEA growers, similar to those established with traditional agriculture.

To conduct the Coordinated Agricultural Project (CAP) study, USDA has selected Charleston, South Carolina-based AmplifiedAg as its vertical farm and technology provider.

AmplifiedAg’s advanced hydroponic container-based vertical farming platform and proprietary hardware and software will lead USDA’s effort to reconcile key and critical data gaps between controlled environment agriculture (CEA) and field grown crops. This research spans crop production, food safety, market quality and nutrition, in addition to an economic analysis on produce access and affordability. Through this quantitative research and scientific findings, USDA will generate fundamental industry standards to sustain and promote CEA industry growth with adaptation to market demands and consumer confidence.

“We are extremely proud that AmplifiedAg has been awarded the opportunity by USDA to provide the technology solution for this monumental analysis about our category and its influence on food systems,” Don Taylor, founder and CEO of AmplifiedAg, said in a news release. “The outcomes will further validate the efficiencies and benefits that indoor farming offers urban communities, consumers, and the agricultural industry overall.”

Additional details about the activities and analysis to be conducted during the study:

  • Perform food safety hazard identification, analysis, and quantification during CEA production from seeds to marketplace
  • Develop science- and risk-based food safety guidelines and mitigation strategies for best practices and product labeling
  • Determine nutritional quality of CEA leafy greens, and how sensors and microbial populations affect nutrition
  • Determine economic efficiencies of CEA
  • Explore opportunities for LED advancements, technology development, and production practices that can cost-effectively produce leafy greens to enhance targeted sensory quality and nutritional profiles
  • Provide transparent communication of CEA technology and scientific advances between specialist and the public sector: economic, food safety, sustainability and standard practice assessments from horticultural, environmental (water, air, energy) and social (employment, food availability, affordability)

“USDA ARS plans to release over 20 white papers during this study that will focus on the category’s leading product of leafy greens, and will also use AmplifiedAg farms and technology to test a variety of fruit and vegetable production to expand upon industry efficiencies and standards,” added Taylor.

The Agricultural Research Service is the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s chief scientific in-house research agency. Daily, ARS focuses on solutions to agricultural problems affecting America. Each dollar invested in agricultural research results in $17 of economic impact.

AmplifiedAg Vertical Roots’ green butter lettuce.

USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. Under the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov.

AmplifiedAg, Inc. is a leader in the indoor agriculture category focused on empowering a scalable, resilient, and sustainable food supply and providing global populations with access to clean, fresh, and healthy produce. The company manufactures modular and scalable vertical farms using refurbished shipping containers and advanced hydroponic systems controlled by its proprietary hardware and seed-to-market SaaS-based software.

AmplifiedAg’s flagship brand Vertical Roots is the largest hydroponic container farm in the world and currently sells its produce through more than 1,800 grocery stores and numerous distributors.

In addition to powering its flagship brand Vertical Roots, AmplifiedAg provides holistic indoor farming solutions to sustainably grow and distribute food anywhere in the world. Learn more at www.amplifiedaginc.com.

Photo at top: Amlfied Ag Vertical Roots’ hydroponic container farm. Photos: AmplifiedAg

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