WC-22 Aquaponic and Hydroponic Systems in Controlled Environments

This session will address the potential of hydroponic and aquaponic (aquaculture with hydroponics in a closed loop) systems within controlled environments (CE) to sustainably meet demands for food production with limited resources.

In conventional agriculture, food productivity is limited by the input of energy, water, nutrients, and labor, and modulated by local climate. In contrast, with CE, optimal crop potential is realized through efficient production methods, resource recycling and reuse, and effective control of the plant’s aerial and root-zone environments. In addition, the effects of climate variability in CE is reduced or eliminated by utilizing controlled structures to offer nutritious, safe, secure, and predictable products. Aquaponic and hydroponic food production systems that utilize organic, inorganic, and/or recycled natural resources for plant fertilization will be presented.

Moderator: William “Bill” Cooper, Director, Environmental Engineering Program, National Science Foundation

Speakers:

  • Rachel Brennan, Associate Professor of Environmental Engineering, Pennsylvania State University
  • Gene Giacomelli, Director, Controlled Environment Agriculture Center, University of Arizona
  • Michael Mageau, Assistant Professor, Environment and Sustainability, University of Minnesota, Duluth
  • David Specca, Assistant Director of Controlled Environment Agriculture and Bioenergy, Rutgers University

Bill Cooper directs the NSF program that funds projects looking at the environmental engineering implications of energy and resource consumption; the availability of high quality water supplies; and the fate and transport of contaminants of emerging concern in air, water, and soils. Prior to joining NSF in 2013, Bill was a Professor and Director of the Urban Water Research Center at the University of California, Irvine.

Rachel Brennan, PhD, PE, is an Associate Professor of Environmental Engineering at Penn State University and a Senior Consultant with Golder Associates. Her area of expertise is in the research, development, and application of sustainable technologies for the treatment of a variety of water contaminants, including chlorinated solvents, hydrocarbons, explosives, pharmaceuticals, pesticides, and acid mine drainage. Her current research efforts focus on ecological wastewater treatment, enhanced nutrient removal, and the beneficial reuse of aquatic plant biomass for the production of sustainable fertilizers, feedstocks, and biofuels. She currently serves as Director of Penn State’s Advanced Ecological Engineering Systems Lab (Eco-MachineTM) and is the Faculty Advisor to the Penn State chapter of Engineers Without Borders. (814-865-9428; rbrennan@engr.psu.edu)

Dr Gene Giacomelli, Director of the Controlled Environment Agriculture Center at the University of Arizona, Tucson, is a professor in the Agricultural/Biosystems Engineering Department. He focuses on research, design, development, and applications of controlled environment plant production systems (greenhouse/growth chamber), with emphases on: crop production, nutrient delivery, environmental control, mechanization, and labor. He continues NASA studies on bioregenerative life support food systems. With Sadler Machine Co., he designed and implemented an automated food growth chamber at the NSF South Pole Station in Antarctica. Other efforts include educating students in engineering and science; outreach for application through Cooperative Extension; and collaborating with businesses for economic development. (520-626-9566; giacomel@ag.arizona.edu)

Michael Mageau received a MS Degree in Environmental Biology from the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD) and a PhD in Environmental Science with a certificate in Ecological Economics and Sustainable Development from the University of Maryland. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Environment and Sustainability at UMD. Michael directs the Environment and Sustainability (ES) undergraduate degree program and the Center for Sustainable Community Development (CSCD). Michael’s research and teaching interests are aimed at sustainable community development with a focus on renewable energy systems and sustainable food systems. In the past five years, he has developed and directed Victus Farms, a 9,000 square foot controlled environment agriculture (CEA) production facility aimed at creating an economically viable model for year-round, sustainable food production in cold climates. (218-726-6133; mmageau@d.umn.edu)

David Specca’s work focuses on sustainable greenhouse practices including hydroponics, aquaponics, and clean energy technologies such as anaerobic digestion, biofuels, and combined heat and power (CHP). He serves as the Assistant Director for Controlled Environment Agriculture and Bioenergy at the Rutgers University EcoComplex and also owns and manages a u-pick fruit and vegetable farm. His experience in both the research and commercial aspects of the food-energy-water nexus gives him a unique perspective for the integration of systems that are technically sound and economically feasible. He has a BS in Horticulture and an MS in Plant Science from Rutgers University and serves as the Agricultural Representative on the New Jersey Water Supply Advisory Council. (609-499-3600; specca@aesop.rutgers.edu)

Organizers:

  • Michael Mageau, Assistant Professor, Environment and Sustainability, University of Minnesota, Duluth
  • Gene Giacomelli, Director, Controlled Environment Agriculture Center, University of Arizona
  • Rachel Brennan, Associate Professor of Environmental Engineering, Pennsylvania State University

Leave a Comment