BioInnovation Wales Logo
Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA)

Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA)

Release Date: Each May

Professional Accreditation: IEMA (as part of MSc)

Lead Organisation: IBERS, Aberystwyth University

Learn about the latest advances in the field of controlled environment agriculture (CEA) and how to develop controlled growing systems

Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) is a technology-based approach to food production, allowing growers/food producers and agri-tech businesses to optimise growing conditions and resource usage. CEA has the potential to increase business resilience and food security in the face of factors such as climate change and land availability. This module introduces students to the latest advances in this rapidly developing area of agriculture, highlighting the benefits of a range of controlled environments and their potential for improved products and food security.

Many thanks to our contributors -



The course will consist of a series of lectures and guided learning focused on:

List of Units

Why Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA)?
  • The challenges we face regarding agriculture and food production.
  • The potential of CEA to meet some of the future food challenges
  • Overview of CEA technologies.
Challenges of CEA
  • Challenges and opportunities surrounding the policy landscape/net zero carbon regarding the implementation of CEA technology.
  • Economic challenges to the application of CEA technology.
  • Potential limitations of CEA technology implementation, resulting from economic constraints.
Overview of existing CEA systems: virtual field trip
  • Technological elements of a CEA production system.
  • Identifying key technologies to maintain appropriate environmental conditions for plant growth.
  • Opportunities and challenges for the use of advanced technologies, including automation, in CEA.
Plant Biology and CEA
  • Key principles of plant biology
  • Identify characteristics of plant physiology
  • Applying general plant biology principles to controlled environments
  • Applying an understanding of the nature of plants to the specific constraints of CEA systems
Agronomy: growing plants in CEA systems
  • Key agronomic factors affecting plant cultivation in CEA systems
  • Impacts of technological choices on plant growth, and interpretation of selections made by CEA enterprises
  • Viable solutions to plant production challenges using CEA systems.
Plant Stress
  • Key drivers of plant stress
  • Mechanisms that plants have evolved to counter stress
  • Ways in which a controlled environment can be modified to promote certain stress responses
Design considerations for CEA infrastructure
  • CEA system design challenges
  • Key components of CEA system technology, recognising the interconnected role of each component
  • Approaches to achieving system integration
  • Functional CEA system design.
CEA system control
  • Monitoring and control in an automated CEA system
  • Application of data capture, machine learning and web-based systems for improved efficiency
  • The use of imaging techniques to monitor plants in CEA systems 
The potential for co-location and circular economy solutions
  • The importance of circular economy principles to the agri-food supply chain
  • Key components of a CEA enterprise which enable the application of circular economy principles
  • Business models and/or synergistic relationships which could improve the circularity of resources in a CEA enterprise.


Tutors Name
Dr William Stiles
Dr Sarah Watson-Jones
Dr Peter Wotton Beard


Jodie Pritchard

What I have learnt will help with the hydroponics unit that we will receive from Tech Tyfu next spring and I hope we will be able to learn from our practical experience. We also hope that we will be able to encourage other farmers to investigate CEA as an addition to their farming operation and also encourage more people to take part in further studies in their adult life.

Jodie Pritchard Senior Rural Surveyor - Baileys and Partners, Gwynedd
Amanda Wood

It has changed how my business operates and has led me to some further reading and experimentation. I learnt so much about CEA that I think it could be a stand alone degree. I would love to dig further into every aspect more thoroughly.