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The CAA is convening an international network of engineers, scientists, entrepreneurs and industry leaders to bring new applied research programs and agricultural technologies to Pennsylvania.

As Harrisburg University expands its facilities and programs into the sectors of food, agriculture, renewables and environment, the CAA is working to bring students, faculty and industry partners into collaboration around innovations at the nexus of food, water and energy.

CAA’s Mission

CAA Focus Areas

The Bioeconomy

The bioeconomy includes the production and use of renewable biological resources as well as economic activities related to the invention, development, production and use of biological products and processes. This includes production of food and non-food agricultural crops, and the technological processes that turn them into food, feed, bio-based products, agrofuels, and bioenergy. The bioeconomy encapsulates numerous sectors: agriculture, forestry, fisheries, construction, food processing, biomaterials, biotechnology, textiles, environmental technologies, industrial goods, chemicals and pharmaceuticals, and recycling and waste collection. It requires the forging of bridges between actors engaged in the following four pillars:

  • Food production and processing
  • Agri-environmental products and services
  • Value-added food and health products
  • Energy and bioenergy

Controlled Environment Agriculture

CEA involves agricultural production within enclosures that provide meaningful levels of biosecurity and climate control – either indoors with artificial lighting or in various types of greenhouse enclosures. CEA manages and monitors contained microclimates in order to maximize plant growth for high-yield and year-round crop production. These controlled environments can be built in a range of enclosures, greenhouses or indoor spaces equipped with artificial lighting. CEA facilities control ambient temperatures around plants and their root zone (rhizosphere), along with relative humidity, CO2 levels, lighting, nutrient levels and sources being delivered to plants. CEA is one of four branches of Novel Farming Systems:

  • Indoor (vertical) farming and greenhouses
  • Aquaculture (fish and aquatic organisms)
  • Insect farming, alternative proteins and cellular ag
  • Microbe & algae production
sunburst chart

The ultimate convergence industry Controlled Environment Agriculture

Modern CEA creates ideal climates for crops to grow year-round, with fewer pests and pathogens, and with a fraction of the land and water resources. Furthermore, the demands of cultivating beneficial plants and organisms in optimal climate conditions makes CEA one of the most interdisciplinary industries in the world. From the lab to the commercial farm, a CEA facility provides the ultimate ‘living laboratory’ for experiential learning and skills development in otherwise disparate STEM fields. In a vertical farm, the most advanced modern applications of data science, robotics, and artificial intelligence converge around biology. In this concert of disciplines, growers learn to wield new technologies, cultivating increasingly diverse products as the bioeconomy sector pursues deeper understanding of natural systems.


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