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S.C. State University launches indoor farming research program

Christina Lee Knauss //February 13, 2023//

S.C. State University launches indoor farming research program

Christina Lee Knauss //February 13, 2023//

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South Carolina State University’s 1890 Research and Extension arm is launching a new controlled environment agriculture program.

Brandon Huber, who joined the university in January, will serve as the research scientist focusing on controlled environment agriculture, according to a news release. Huber specializes in research into this form of agriculture, and his work includes studies into how to optimize production from indoor farming.

Huber holds a doctorate in controlled environment horticulture and a master’s degree in plant breeding from North Carolina State University. He has experience in the greenhouse production industry as a greenhouse manager with the Pennsylvania Horticulture Society.  Prior to joining S.C. State 1890, he taught vegetable production at N.C. State and provided consulting work in controlled environment agriculture.

“One of the main advantages of indoor farming is that harsh environmental factors, like fluctuating temperatures, droughts, storms, animal or insect infestations are eliminated since production is indoors,” Huber said in the release.

Huber hopes to implement study of a range of indoor farming techniques through the extension program, including the use of high tunnels and vertical farming, which features crops that are stacked and grown on levels above each other. He also hopes to implement the study of hydroponic farming, crops that are grown without the use of soil but with nutrient solutions mixed with water.

“We want to use these vehicles as a way to bring value-added options to farmers and make them more marketable and able to supply their products year-round to local grocery and community stores,” Huber said.

Huber joins SC State 1890 in wake of the program’s $70 million Climate-Smart Commodities partnership grant with Clemson University, awarded by the United States Department of Agriculture in October 2022.

The climate-smart commodities project focuses on various agricultural products including peanuts, beef cattle, forest products and leafy green vegetables.

“We are excited for Dr. Huber to bring his wealth of knowledge and experience on controlled environment agriculture to SC State 1890,” said Louis Whitesides, vice president and executive director for 1890 programs at S.C. State. “As issues of food security increase and food costs continue to rise, controlled environment farming is one possible solution to address these challenges.”