Virginia Cooperative Extension will host the Innovation in Greenhouse and Vertical Farming Conference on March 12 at the Virginia Farm Bureau in Richmond, Virginia.

The conference will feature expert perspectives on innovation in the field of controlled environment agriculture (CEA), a tech-driven production approach on the rise in today’s greenhouses, warehouses, and vertical farms. If you’re interested in commercial use of controlled environment agriculture, join academic and industry experts and active Virginia-based CEA producers for the one-day event.

The conference will touch on the economics and logistics of running a CEA business. Keynote speaker Neil Mattson, associate professor of plant science at Cornell University and director of the Cornell Controlled Environment Agriculture Group, will give a “nuts and bolts” talk on the basic elements of forming a CEA business. Mattson will cover topics like site assessment, growing structures, types of crops, and hydroponic or soilless growing systems.

Other speakers will cover the latest advancements in hydroponics, greenhouse and vertical farm energy use, sensor technology, lighting, computer vision, automation, and vertical farming. Chris Higgins of Hort Americas will discuss commercial CEA operation topics like the use of climate control and LED technologies. Travis Higginbotham of Fluence Bioengineering will speak about innovations in sensor and lighting technology. Guests will also hear from Virginia producers who have successfully incorporated controlled environment agriculture into their business models, including producers from Wirtz, Schuyler, and Arlington, Virginia.

The 2019 Innovation in Greenhouse and Vertical Farming Conference is organized by Virginia Cooperative Extension and sponsored by Fluence Bioengineering, Hort Americas, Farm Credit, Autocrop Hydroponic Solutions, Virginia Grown, Virginia Farm Bureau, and the Virginia Flower Growers Association, with media partner Urban Ag News.

Register online by Feb. 28 and take advantage of the $75 early registration fee that includes conference materials and lunch.  After Feb. 28, your investment is $125. For more information, contact Joyce Latimer at or visit the conference website.

If you are a person with a disability and desire any assistive devices, services, or other accommodations to participate in this activity, please contact Martha A. Walker, Central District Office, at 434-766-6761 during business hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. to discuss accommodations at least five days prior to the event.  *TDD number is (800) 828-1120.

Written by Suzanne Irby