Oct 12, 2022
Controlled Environment Agriculture Complex Opens At OSU

The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) needed a more highly effective, relevant, efficient and innovative greenhouse to serve its mission to sustain life.

The previous greenhouse capabilities — designed using technology that is now 50 years out of date — lacked basic features common among modern greenhouses. A cutting-edge complex at the forefront of controlled environment food production research would make a difference. The focus in this new facility will be research of modern, sustainable food production technologies, including soilless and hydroponic production.

When The Ohio State University opened its new Controlled Environment Agriculture Complex (CEARC) on Sept. 30, 2022, it represented a culmination of efforts between the school and the industry. Companies such as Nationwide Insurance, Current (formerly GE Current), Priva and General Hydroponics — to name a few — made donations of both money and product.

The $35.8 million project was constructed at Waterman Agricultural and Natural Resources Laboratory and offers dynamic platforms for hands-on teaching, outreach and engagement activities.

Current provided LED grow lighting for the four chambers that will be used to grow vine crops, berries and leafy greens at the CEARC, while Hort Americas handled the lighting layout, design and planning. The 48,989 square-foot CEARC will provide a platform for interdisciplinary research at the nexus of horticulture, engineering, entomology, pathology, food science, computer science, and human nutrition and health.

“This is an important project for the industry because of the cutting-edge research, teaching and job training that will be conducted at this facility,” said Chris Higgins, Hort Americas president and co-founder. “We’re also excited because this is a way to prepare students to enter directly into the commercial horticulture workforce.”

CEARC researchers will explore new methods for improving nutrient density and flavor in vegetables and fruits, as well as optimizing harvesting and controlling insects and pests. In addition, clinical studies will be done to examine the efficacy of enhanced nutritional value in the human diet. 

In appreciation for Current’s support, the CEARC’s lobby is named the Arize Lobby. Arize is Current’s LED lighting brand.