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Urban Agriculture Program

Research Faculty/ Areas of Expertise

Javad Abbasian (ChBE):
process design, water
Paul Anderson (CAEE):
water
Hamid Arastoopour (ChBE/MMAE):
outdoor urban agriculture, irrigation systems, education and outreach
Weslynne Ashton (SSB):
economic aspects of urban agriculture and outreach
Robert Carlson (INTM):
data collection and analysis
Nasrin Khalili (SSB): biochar application in urban agriculture
Alvin Lee (INTM):
food safety
Sohail Murad (ChBE):
education, data analysis
Mohammad Shahidehpour (ECE):
microgrid, renewable energy and control
Matthew Shapiro (PS):
social aspects of urban agriculture
Brent Stephens (CAEE):
hydroponic and aquaponic urban agriculture
Fouad Teymour (ChBE):
kinetic hydroponic systems
Liad Wagman (SSB):
economic aspects of urban agriculture

Selected Current Projects

1. IPRO Projects (
Instructor: Hamid Arastoopour, ChBE/MMAE)

The overall objective of these IPRO projects was to renovate the present outdoor UFarmIIT by designing and constructing state-of-the-art automated facilities which include a hoop house  at the campus of IIT to explore innovative solutions to UFarmIIT based on a sustainability strategy for water (e.g., construction of rain collection systems and use of an efficient irrigation technology), energy (e.g., using solar energy and battery storage), initial analysis of carbon and water footprints, and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The IPRO team installed completely automated remote monitoring and control systems via embedded moisture sensor networks and a remote irrigation system for the four beds of UFarmIIT. They also conducted a literature survey on urban farming including an analysis of food safety issues; exploration of possible solutions for UFarm wastes and their life cycle analysis; analysis of energy and water, and greenhouse gas (GHG) footprints of UFarmIIT and other local urban food systems and potential contaminants in solids and collected rain water in urban areas.

2. Social, Environmental, and Economic Impacts of Using Biochar Technology in the Design of Sustainable Agricultural Product Systems (PI: Nasrin Khalili, SSB)

This technology-oriented research investigates the impact of feedstock quality and availability (agricultural waste, municipal sludge) on the design of biochar pyrolysis units' capital and operating costs, and the importance of using biochars in promoting sustainable agricultural practices in both urban and rural areas. This study specifically examines different strategic plans for making use of biochar as a standard operating procedure in sustainable farming through data analysis and assessment of the degree of change expected in agricultural yields, soil water retention, and carbon adsorption capacity post applications. While performing an analysis of the economic and social costs and benefits of using biochar in sustainable farming, we also investigate market potential for the use of biochar in different economies.