Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Agricultural and Biological Engineering

First Advisor

Robert M. Stwalley

Committee Chair

Robert M. Stwalley

Committee Member 1

Dennis R. Buckmaster

Committee Member 2

Bernard A. Engel


As the world’s population continues to increase, food production will need to increase in order to meet the predicted rise in food demand. However, with increased pressure on cropland available from environmental effects and urbanization, new innovative methods of crop production need to be researched in order to increase agricultural production with limited land. This research focuses on the design of a single form of urban agriculture that is considered Zfarming and has the potential to produce quality urban agricultural produce through ground-based measures. This project produced detailed step-by-step analysis of the design process, develop variability within the modified hydroponic shipping container (MHSC) for research potential, create AutoCAD drawings of the different MHSC systems and components, and lastly identify which design areas can be improved with suggestions to commercial manufacturers for increasing productivity. The research oriented MHSC will contain four growing areas, each consisting of a growing, irrigation, environmental control system. The main purpose of this MHSC system is as a research module to compare to commercial products available. Throughout the design process, there has been a focus on variability in experimental execution in order to find the most optimal MHSC growing conditions. The MHSC can produce numerous crops, has adjustable supporting units to vary the growing tray slope up to 5.5%, allows different lighting sources, adjustable distance from plants to lights (from 2” to 54”), has an adjustable drain to vary water height from ½” to 2” within the growing trays, contains variable pump to vary the flow rate (0.75 to 3 gpm), and potential for range of 3 to 60 air change per hour in the ventilation system. Four individual growing areas facilitate research experiments within one shipping container. To improve production based on observations from the bench tests conducted, a water cooling method was installed and the drain was re-designed. To improve the production potential of MHSCs, a focus increasing the environmental control accuracy, integration of harvesting automation, and improved energy efficiency are suggested. By designing this hydroponic shipping container to contain variable methods of production, further research will allow for optimization of production and an advantage in reaching the expected increase in food demand.