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Courses on indoor ag offered online

UC Davis Continuing and Professional Education and The VINE launch classes beginning July 1.

June 5, 2024

3 Min Read
Indoor agriculture
Controlled environment agriculture is used to grow a variety of foods, including leafy greens, herbs, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, berries and specialty crops like microgreens and mushrooms.Hanif Houston/UC Davis

By Hanif Houston

A new, comprehensive and advanced learning experience in indoor farming is now available for growers. The VINE, an initiative of University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR), and UC Davis Continuing and Professional Education have opened enrollment for their new Controlled Environment Agriculture Program. Courses begin on July 1.

Controlled environment agriculture is a technology-based method of growing plants that offers precise control over temperature, humidity, light, carbon dioxide and air circulation. CEA can take place in greenhouses, indoor vertical farms or hydroponic farms.

"Unpredictable and extreme weather, pests and growing demand for year-round, local produce are driving growers to move crop production indoors,” said Gabe Youtsey, UC ANR chief innovation officer and co-founder of the VINE.

The CEA Program is designed to impart a deep understanding of both the scientific and practical aspects of indoor farming. The series of four detailed courses, designed to be completed in less than a year, are offered through a flexible online platform. This program is suitable for a wide range of professionals from various sectors including farming operations managers, horticulturists, indoor farming specialists, early-career agriculture professionals, and those in related fields.

"As the agricultural sector evolves, our CEA Program aims to provide the foundational knowledge and practical skills crucial for success in controlled environment agriculture," said Youtsey. "We are preparing participants to effectively manage and innovate within their own agricultural practices."

Participants in the program will receive instruction from international experts in controlled environment agriculture. The curriculum includes an exploration of various business models in CEA, optimal crop selection for different environments, and effective strategies for managing pests and diseases. Additionally, it covers the application of data to enhance growing conditions and profitability, as well as best practices for ensuring product safety and quality.

"Students in this program will gain a deeper understanding of the operational aspects of indoor farming and how they can apply this knowledge to real-world scenarios," said Jennifer Greenier, Ph.D., UC Davis Life Sciences Workforce Development director. "We are committed to providing educational pathways that nurture the skills necessary for advancing career opportunities in agriculture."

Four courses

The Controlled Environment Agriculture Program is structured around four core courses, each designed to build specific skills and knowledge essential for success in indoor farming:

Introduction to CEA – Fundamentals of indoor farming, business models, and technological advancements.

Plant Production in Indoor Farming – Planning and implementing effective operations, understanding plant physiology, and nutrition management.

Postharvest Processes: Ensuring Crop Quality and Safety in CEA – Food safety, proper storage, distribution, and marketing strategies.

Data-driven Growing – Developing data management skills and optimizing operations through data analytics.

Individual course fees are $1,000 to $2,000 and the full CEA Program is priced at $6,000. Completely online, the courses are accessible to professionals both domestic and international.

To attend an informational session on June 6, visit https://bit.ly/IndoorAginfo. For additional details, visit the UC Davis Continuing and Professional Education website: https://cpe.ucdavis.edu/subject-areas/controlled-environment-agriculture.

[Hanif Houston is associate director of communications and marketing for UC Davis’ The VINE.]

Source: University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources

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