Controlled-environment agriculture (CEA) is any agricultural technology that enables the grower to manipulate a crop's environment to the desired conditions. CEA technologies include greenhouse, hydroponics, aquaculture, and aquaponics. Controlled variables include temperature, humidity, pH, and nutrient analysis.
In research, CEA is useful for isolating specific environmental variables for closer study. For example, researchers may study photosynthesis by comparing a crop from a greenhouse with special pane tinting with one that is not tinted. The advantage is that all other factors can be kept constant, reducing the incidence of another influence on the experiment.
A February 2011 article in the magazine, "Science Illustrated" states, :In commercial agriculture, CEA can increase efficiency, reduce pests and diseases, and save resources.... Replicating a conventional farm with computers and LED lights is expensive but proves cost-efficient in the long run by producing up to 20 times as much high-end, pesticidee-free produce as a similar size plot of soil. Fourteen thousand square feet of closely monitored plants produce 15 million seedlings annually at the solar-powered factory. Such factories will be necessary to meet urban China's rising demand for quality fruits and vegetables.