Gene A Giacomelli
Professor, Agricultural-Biosystems Engineering
Professor, Applied BioSciences - GIDP
Professor, BIO5 Institute
Professor, Plant Science
Primary Department
Department Affiliations
(520) 626-9566
Work Summary
Gene Giacmomelli's research focus includes controlled environment plant productions systems [greenhouse and growth chamber] research, design, development and applications, with emphases on: crop production systems, nutrient delivery systems, environmental control, mechanization, and labor productivity.
Research Interest
Gene Giacomelli, PhD, is the director of the CEAC, or interdisciplinary education, research and outreach program for greenhouse and other advanced technology systems. Here at the University of Arizona, he teaches Controlled Environment Systems, which is an introduction to the technical aspects of greenhouse design, environmental control, nutrient delivery systems, hydroponic crop production, intensive field production systems, and post-harvest handling and storage of crops. His research interests include controlled environment plant productions systems (greenhouse and growth chamber) research, design, development and applications, with emphases on: crop production systems, nutrient delivery systems, environmental control, mechanization, and labor productivity.


Takakura, T., Kubota, C., Sase, S., Hayashi, M., Ishii, M., Takayama, K., Nishina, H., Kurata, K., & Giacomelli, G. A. (2009). Measurement of evapotranspiration rate in a single-span greenhouse using the energy-balance equation. Biosystems Engineering, 102(3), 298-304.


The energy-balance equation was used to estimate evapotranspiration in a greenhouse, and an instrument was developed to collect data for this purpose. The values estimated by this method were in good agreement with the measured data. It was shown that the net solar radiation term was the largest and cannot be neglected, and that long-wave radiation exchange had a relatively small effect. As usual, soil heat flux can be neglected but the sensible heat transfer term cannot be neglected since the maximum of the possible range of values is large and significant. It was concluded that the method used was simple and suitable for irrigation control in greenhouses. It was also concluded that normal radiation sensor measurements on a horizontal surface are not adequate for measuring radiation received by a plant canopy in a single-span greenhouse. © 2009 IAgrE.

Giacomelli, G. A., Paterson, R. L., Sadler, P., & Barta, D. J. (2003). Development and evaluation of an advanced water-jacketed high intensity discharge lamp. SAE Technical Papers.


During the period July 2001 to March 2002, the performance of a water-jacketed high intensity discharge lamp of advanced design was evaluated within a lamp test stand at The University of Arizona (UA), Controlled Environment Agriculture Center (CEAC) in Tucson, Arizona. The lamps and test stand system were developed by Mr. Phil Sadler of Sadler Machine Company, Tempe, Arizona, and supported by a Space Act Agreement between NASA-Johnson Space Center (JSC) and UA. The purpose was for long term testing of the prototype lamp and demonstration of an improved procedure for use of water-jacketed lamps for plant production within the close confines of controlled environment facilities envisioned by NASA within Bioregenerative Life Support Systems. The lamp test stand consisted of six, 400 watt water-cooled, high pressure sodium HID lamps, mounted within a framework. A nutrient delivery system consisting of nutrient film technique re-circulation troughs and a storage tank was also included, but plants grown in the system were not evaluated in this time period. The performance of the lamps was quantified in terms of photosynthetic photon flux (PPF), and spectral irradiance during the 9-month testing period. In addition, an energy balance and a series of short term tests were completed on the lamp system. The lamps were operated on a 16 hour 'on' and 8 hour 'off' duty cycle each day. The total operation time for the lamps during the test period was 4208 hour. The following report describes a series of tests performed on the water-cooled high pressure sodium (HPS) lamp system. Copyright © 2003 SAE International.

Choi, C. Y., Zimmt, W., & Giacomelli, G. (1999). Freeze and frost protection with aqueous foam - Foam development. HortTechnology, 9(4), 654-661.


Aqueous foam was developed to serve as a barrier to conductive, convective, and radiative heat transfer. Through the use of a bulking agent, the physical properties of gelatin-based foam were more stable, adhesive, biodegradable, and long lasting. The phytotoxicity, possible environmental hazard and removal of the foam were also considered. Resistance to freezing-thawing, heating-evaporation, and wind were evaluated. Studies to determine the foam's long-term stability under field weather conditions were completed. The handling and performance characteristics of the foam necessary for development of this application were determined. Factors that affect the physical properties and the utilization of the foam were quantified. These included the proportions of the foam components, the mixing temperature of the prefoam solution, the application temperature, and the rate of foam generation. The newly developed foam might be ideal for freeze and frost protection in agriculture.

Sadler, P. D., & Giacomelli, G. A. (2002). Mars inflatable greenhouse analog.. Life support & biosphere science : international journal of earth space, 8(2), 115-123.

PMID: 11987303;Abstract:

Light intensities on the Martian surface can possibly support a bioregenerative life support system (BLSS) utilizing natural sunlight for hydroponic crop production, if a suitable controlled environment can be provided. Inflatable clear membrane structures offer low mass, are more easily transported than a rigid structure, and are good candidates for providing a suitable controlled environment for crop production. Cable culture is one hydroponic growing system that can take advantage of the beneficial attributes of the inflatable structure. An analog of a Mars inflatable greenhouse can provide researchers data on issues such as crew time requirements for operation, productivity for BLSS, human factors, and much more at a reasonable cost. This is a description of one such design.

Giacomelli, G. A., Ting, K. C., & Ling, P. P. (1994). Systems approach to instrumenting and controlling plant growth systems. Advances in Space Research, 14(11), 191-197.

PMID: 11540180;Abstract:

Acquisition and analysis of sensory information are foremost for the control and continued operation of any complex system. The sensors and their attributes must be selected by understanding the biological and physical parameters which, first, can describe, and second, when linked to control systems, can modulate, the plant growth system. These parameters are not all understood, or known, and practical sensors may not even exist for their measurement. A systematic analysis of the general plant system would: focus without prejudice on all the descriptive parameters, as well as, their interrelationships within the biophysical system; highlight the significance of each parameter; expose the areas of weakness and strength of current knowledge; expand the knowledge base; provide the platform for the development of operational models for real-time monitoring and control requirements; and support the longer term tactical and strategic planning needs. Components of such a procedure of systematic analysis which is in development for intensive plant production systems within controlled environments will be discussed. © 1994.