Waste management in Urban Agriculture

Position:  MSc in Environmental Science
Location: University of Guelph – Main Campus
Department:  School of Environmental Sciences 
Advisor: Dr. Thomas Graham, PhytoGro Research Chair in Controlled Environment Systems

Project Description:

High intensity urban agriculture, and more specifically vertical farming, is becoming a significant contributor to our food supply system.  There are many benefits to high intensity urban agriculture and it will undoubtedly play a role in adapting to and mitigating the effects of the global climate crisis on our food supply systems.  This said, there are still many challenges facing this emerging industry including the management of crop residues (e.g., the inedible biomass) in an urban environment.  This project will examine this waste management issue by characterizing the diversity and composition of waste biomass and devising protocols for on-site recovery of the resources held in that biomass (e.g., CO2, mineral nutrients, water).  Composting of crop residue will be one mechanism by which these resources will be recovered.  

In addition to the obvious terrestrial applications of this research, this project will also tie into our on-going research into bioregenerative life-support for human space exploration. In space there is no waste, all matter must be reclaimed in future Moon and Mars habitats.

The successful candidate will work with members of the Controlled Environment Systems Research Facility (CESRF) to conduct experiments and design equipment that will ultimately be used to recycle the waste biomass in commercial vertical farming systems.  Advances made here will improve production and drive down the crop production costs in these high-tech food production systems.


  • A background in soil science, microbiology, or horticulture
  • Meet eligibility requirements (see link below)
  • Mechanical a/o electronics aptitude would be an asset 

Send CV and unofficial transcripts to:
Theresa Rondeau Vuk
CESRF Program Manager

or Contact SES Graduate Program Support (Jennifer LaPorte)
519.824.4120 x53937

More information on how to apply.