ILAR, Virginia Tech to launch Controlled Environment Agriculture Innovation Center
Strawberries growing in a hydroponic system
Photo: DN6, Adobe Stock

ILAR, Virginia Tech to launch Controlled Environment Agriculture Innovation Center

The center, located in Danville, Virginia, aims to" leverage technology and research to accelerate advancements, economic development, and regional participation in the developing industry of indoor farming."

February 20, 2020

The Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR) is partnering with the School of Plant and Environmental Sciences and the Virginia Seafood Agricultural Research and Extension Center in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Virginia Tech to launch a Controlled Environment Agriculture Innovation Center on IALR’s campus in Danville, Virginia.

The Innovation Center will leverage technology and research to accelerate advancements, economic development, and regional participation in the developing industry of indoor farming. The value of U.S. greenhouse-grown food crops is expected to exceed $4 billion this year.

“We are delighted that the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research and Virginia Tech’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences have combined their expertise to create a top program in controlled environment agriculture. This collaborative effort is creating tremendous energy and excitement because of its potential to provide innovative solutions to the agricultural community,” said Alan Grant, dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. “Partnerships like this will help us realize the vision of the SmartFarm Innovation Network Initiative to support the agriculture industry.”

Convening industry, academia and producers, the Innovation Center will be housed primarily within a modern greenhouse complex on IALR’s campus. Features will include various hydroponic systems, which grow plants in a soilless root medium with optimal amounts of water and nutrients. Vertical growing racks will maximize space, and high-tech engineering and technology will be integrated and on display throughout the center. High-value demonstration crops will include lettuce, herbs, strawberry, blackberry, hemp and more. In addition. 

More information is available on ILAR's website.