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Insights Into the Economic Viability of a New CEA System Producing Hydroponic Lettuce


  • Ilaslan, Gunes
  • White, Gerald B.
  • Langhans, Robert W.


A new CEA (Controlled Environment Agriculture) system growing Boston lettuce, Lactuca Sativa cv. ‘Vivaldi’, achieves the same quality and quantity of production every day of the year. The year-round constant quantity and quality production indicate potential for success. However, our research showed that out of nine selected U.S. locations with different climatic and economic conditions, the Northeast had 25.7 percent higher production costs for the same yield. The analysis indicated that given current prices and costs, CEA hydroponic lettuce production in northern climates such as Ithaca in upstate New York and Chicago is marginal to negative in terms of economic viability. As a result, the question arises about the future viability of CEA in areas such as upstate New York and New England where electricity costs are high and the climate is relatively cold. Many such areas are struggling with the future viability of agriculture. Thus, this study provides alternative ways to increase the economic viability of this new technology in the Northeast. The importance of local production, state level promotion programs and other potential incentives, and metro farm alternatives are examined. The analysis is applicable to other agricultural products produced in the Northeast at higher cost than in other locations in the southern and western United States.

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  • Ilaslan, Gunes & White, Gerald B. & Langhans, Robert W., 2002. "Insights Into the Economic Viability of a New CEA System Producing Hydroponic Lettuce," Staff Papers 121122, Cornell University, Department of Applied Economics and Management.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:cudasp:121122
    DOI: 10.22004/ag.econ.121122

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. John M. Halloran & Michael V. Martin, 1989. "Should states be in the agricultural promotion business?," Agribusiness, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 5(1), pages 65-75.
    2. Bacon, J. R. & Gempesaw, C. M., II & Handy, C. R., 1989. "Regional Trends And Spatial Characteristics Of U.S. Supply And Demand For Farm Output," Staff Reports 278206, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
    3. Jekanowski, Mark D. & Williams, Daniel R., II & Schiek, William A., 2000. "Consumers' Willingness To Purchase Locally Produced Agricultural Products: An Analysis Of An Indiana Survey," Agricultural and Resource Economics Review, Northeastern Agricultural and Resource Economics Association, vol. 29(1), pages 1-11, April.
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    1. Goodman, Wylie & Minner, Jennifer, 2019. "Will the urban agricultural revolution be vertical and soilless? A case study of controlled environment agriculture in New York City," Land Use Policy, Elsevier, vol. 83(C), pages 160-173.

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