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USDA ARS Selects AmplifiedAg as its First Vertical Farming Platform; Launches CEA Study to Develop New Industry Standards

Agency will utilize AmplifiedAg’s advanced hydroponic container-based vertical farming platform to study crop production, food safety, market quality, and nutrition of produce grown in controlled agriculture environments

CHARLESTON, SC, October 20, 2021: As vertical farming and other forms of modern indoor agriculture continue to evolve and transform the food supply, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service (ARS), USDA’s chief scientific in-house research agency, has launched an intensive study of controlled environment agriculture (CEA) to establish data and science-based metrics and crop production standards for CEA growers, similar to those established with traditional agriculture.

To conduct the study, USDA has selected Charleston, SC-based AmplifiedAg as its vertical farm and technology provider. 

AmplifiedAg’s advanced hydroponic container-based vertical farming platform and proprietary hardware and software will lead USDA’s effort to reconcile key and critical data gaps between CEA and field grown crops. This research spans crop production, food safety, market quality and nutrition, in addition to an economic analysis on produce access and affordability. Through this quantitative research and scientific findings, USDA will generate fundamental industry standards to sustain and promote CEA industry growth with adaptation to market demands and consumer confidence.

“We are extremely proud that AmplifiedAg has been awarded the opportunity by USDA to provide the technology solution for this monumental analysis about our category and its influence on food systems,” said Don Taylor, founder and CEO of AmplifiedAg. “The outcomes will further validate the efficiencies and benefits that indoor farming offers urban communities, consumers, and the agricultural industry overall.”

Additional details about the activities and analysis to be conducted during the study:

  • Perform food safety hazard identification, analysis, and quantification during CEA production from seeds to marketplace
  • Develop science- and risk-based food safety guidelines and mitigation strategies for best practices and product labeling 
  • Determine nutritional quality of CEA leafy greens, and how sensors and microbial populations affect nutrition
  • Determine economic efficiencies of CEA
  • Explore opportunities for LED advancements, technology development, and production practices that can cost-effectively produce leafy greens to enhance targeted sensory quality and nutritional profiles 
  • Provide transparent communication of CEA technology and scientific advances between specialist and the public sector: economic, food safety, sustainability and standard practice assessments from horticultural, environmental (water, air, energy) and social (employment, food availability, affordability) 

“USDA ARS plans to release over 20 white papers during this study that will focus on the category’s leading product of leafy greens, and will also use AmplifiedAg farms and technology to test a variety of fruit and vegetable production to expand upon industry efficiencies and standards,” added Taylor.