NIAB boosts controlled environment research with new appointment

28 Jun 2024
Katia Kouloumprouka Zacharaki
NIAB has appointed Aikaterini (Katia) Kouloumprouka Zacharaki to the role of Total Controlled Environment Agriculture (TCEA) Soft Fruit Specialist.

Katia will be based at NIAB’s horticultural research site at East Malling, Kent.

TCEA is increasingly being deployed as both a research tool and a platform for crop production. NIAB’s research programme aims to improve production efficiency and fruit quality in TCEA soft fruit growing systems, and to determine how conventional glasshouse and polytunnel growing systems could also benefit from this research.

Katia, who has a wealth of experience in the TCEA (vertical farming) sector in both the UK and southern Europe, will lead NIAB’s programme of exciting research that combines detailed scientific knowledge of plant/environment interactions with innovative precision growing technologies and approaches.

Dr Mark Else, NIAB’s Head of Crop Science & Production Systems said “Katia will lead NIAB’s contribution to our £1.8M Defra Farming Innovation Programme project which aims to determine the potential of utilising TCEA systems to improve the quality and consistency of strawberry propagules.”

He continued: “there is also great scope to improve water and nutrient use efficiencies in TCEA soft fruit systems, and to adjust the growing environment to optimise fruit quality via improved photosynthetic efficiency, and so Katia’s appointment is very timely.” 

In addition to her new role at NIAB, Katia is also undertaking a PhD in soft fruit vertical farming at Harper Adams University, is the Communications Director for UK Urban Agriculture Technologies and an independent consultant.