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Vertical farming: a summary of approaches to growing skywards


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Pressure on agricultural land from a rising global population is necessitating the maximisation of food production per unit area of cultivation. Attention is increasingly turning to Vertical Farming (VF) approaches in an attempt to provide a greater crop yield per square meter of land. However, this term has been used to cover a broad range of approaches, from personal- or community-scale vegetable and herb growing to vast skyscrapers for commercial production of a wide range of crops. This article summarises the main categories of VF in order to help clarify this emerging but sometimes confusing area of agriculture and discusses how scientific investigation of the potential of VF is currently lacking and will be required to help determine its feasibility as a method to assist meaningfully in global food production.
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The Journal of Horticultural Science and Biotechnology
ISSN: 1462-0316 (Print) 2380-4084 (Online) Journal homepage:
Vertical farming: a summary of approaches to
growing skywards
Andrew M. Beacham, Laura H. Vickers & James M. Monaghan
To cite this article: Andrew M. Beacham, Laura H. Vickers & James M. Monaghan (2019) Vertical
farming: a summary of approaches to growing skywards, The Journal of Horticultural Science and
Biotechnology, 94:3, 277-283, DOI: 10.1080/14620316.2019.1574214
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Vertical farming: a summary of approaches to growing skywards
Andrew M. Beacham, Laura H. Vickers and James M. Monaghan
Fresh Produce Research Centre, Crop and Environment Sciences Department, Harper Adams University, Edgmond, Shropshire, UK
Pressure on agricultural land from a rising global population is necessitating the maximisation
of food production per unit area of cultivation. Attention is increasingly turning to Vertical
Farming (VF) approaches in an attempt to provide a greater crop yield per square meter of
land. However, this term has been used to cover a broad range of approaches, from personal-
or community-scale vegetable and herb growing to vast skyscrapers for commercial produc-
tion of a wide range of crops. This article summarises the main categories of VF in order to
help clarify this emerging but sometimes confusing area of agriculture and discusses how
scientific investigation of the potential of VF is currently lacking and will be required to help
determine its feasibility as a method to assist meaningfully in global food production.
Accepted 18 January 2019
Vertical farming; hydroponic;
glasshouse; controlled
environment; protected
Agricultural production is experiencing increased pres-
sure to generate larger yields as the global population
rises and demand for food increases. By 2050, the global
population is predicted to reach 9.7 billion, with 70% of
people living in urban environments (United Nations,
2015). In addition, agricultural land may be lost through
the expansion of urban areas and infrastructure develop-
ment (Lotze-Campen et al., 2008), potentially leading to
shortages of farmland (Corvalan, Hales, & McMichael,
2005; Healy & Rosenberg, 2013;Thomaieretal.,2015).
This scale of change may necessitate the investigation of
novel food production methods as both the amount of
and yield achievable from conventional farming of agri-
cultural land is limited.
With the aim of increasing crop yield per unit area of
land, the concept of Vertical Farming (VF) is currently
gathering momentum (Agrilyst, 2017). By farming
upwards rather than outwards, this technique aims to
reduce pressure on traditional agricultural land and, by
incorporating soil-free growing systems, is particularly
attractive for use in urban areas. However, the term
Vertical Farminghascometohaveawiderangeof
definitions that can provide confusion. Often, although
not necessarily associated with urban agriculture, VF
encompasses a range of growth systems of different
scales, users, technologies, locations and purposes. It is
particularly suited to the cultivation of horticultural crops
such as leafy vegetables (Agrilyst, 2017). Here we try to
provide a summary of some the main approaches to VF
and highlight the characteristics of different VF growth
Categories of vertical farming systems
Vertical Farming systems can be broadly divided into
two categories those comprising multiple levels of
traditional horizontal growing platforms, and those
where the crop is grown on a vertical surface. Rooftop
glasshouses with conventional, single-level production,
while belonging to the category of urban agriculture
and having the potential for efficiency improvement
through integration into e.g. urban heating and waste
infrastructure, termed Building Integrated Agriculture
(Caplow, 2009; Eigenbrod & Gruda, 2015), are not
considered here due to their similarities to conventional
rural protected horticulture facilities.
Stacked horizontal systems
This form of Vertical Farming (Figure 1(a, b))frequently
adapts existing commercial protected horticulture sys-
tems. Such systems comprise multiple levels of traditional
horizontal growing platforms. Many horticultural crops,
such as leafy vegetables including lettuce (Lactuca sativa)
and herbs, tomato (Solanum lycopersicum)andpepper
(Capsicum spp.) are grown in large-scale glasshouses
using hydroponic systems (Agrilyst, 2017). These can
include substrate blocks formed of rock-wool or similar
materials which provide a matrix for plant roots and are
drip-fed with a precisely controlled mixture of water and
nutrients. Alternatively, plants can be grown in rafts
which float on the surface of beds of nutrient solution
(deep water culture, DWC) or using a thin layer of
nutrient solution in the rootzone (Nutrient Film
Technique, NFT) (Beacham, Monaghan, Aguiar, &
CONTACT Andrew M. Beacham Fresh Produce Research Centre, Crop and Environment Sciences Department,
Harper Adams University, Edgmond, Shropshire TF10 8NB, UK
2019, VOL. 94, NO. 3, 277283
© 2019 The Journal of Horticultural Science & Biotechnology Trust
Eastham, 2017; Monaghan & Beacham, 2017). Such sys-
tems often incorporate recirculation of the nutrient solu-
tion to maintain optimum nutrient composition with
additional sterilisation/sanitation steps to control poten-
tial pathogens. Alternative approaches include aeropo-
nics where the rootzone is misted with nutrient solution,
requiring relatively low volumes of water (Weathers &
Zobel, 1992), and aquaponics (nutrient provision from
waste from a fish farm built into the recirculation system;
Rakocy, Masser, & Losordo, 2006).
These horizontal growing systems have the poten-
tial to be stacked on top of each other within taller
structures to form a vertical farm. This can be achieved
either in glasshouses (Figure 1(a)) or in self-contained
controlled environment (CE) facilities, sometimes
referred to as Plant Factories(Takatsuji, 2010;
Figure 1(b)). Glasshouses have the benefit of being
able to utilise sunlight for plant growth with supple-
mentary levels of lighting being required during peri-
ods of low light, for example during winter or cloudy
conditions, or for areas of the system distant from the
glasshouse periphery or shaded by higher levels of
planting. CE units, however, being fully enclosed,
require all lighting to be provided, thereby increasing
the energy costs of these systems compared to glass-
houses, although the ability to insulate the CE facility
as the walls are not required to transmit light could
offset the cost of heating a glasshouse structure. In
order to minimise energy consumption, increasingly
efficient light-emitting diode (LED) illumination can
be used, with the spectrum of light output tailored to
the individual needs of particular crops (Bourget, 2008;
Massa, Kim, Wheeler, & Mitchell, 2008). Reduced heat
output from LED lights versus high pressure sodium
lamps (Massa et al., 2008) should allow closer posi-
tioning to the crop, ideal for stacked growth levels in
VF facilities.
The choice of glasshouse or CE will also dictate the
location of the VF system. Glasshouses need to be
situated in locations providing adequate irradiance.
In urban settings, this could comprise a free-standing
structure with a glass or polycarbonate shell, built
from the ground up. However, with the high cost of
land in urban areas (Benke & Tomkins, 2017), a more
cost-effective approach may be to build on top or side
of existing structures and place the glasshouse on the
roof of city buildings or alternatively as a green façade
(Köhler, 2008). CE facilities carry no such location
restrictions and can be placed anywhere with adequate
space. A number of enterprising companies are using
a range of unusual urban sites for food production
using CE systems, such as Growing Underground,
a company producing micro greens and salad leaves
in an unused London Underground tunnel (Growing
Underground, 2018). In addition, CE systems remove
issues of seasonality by maintaining controlled grow-
ing conditions year-round and can therefore poten-
tially increase yield by allowing additional harvests of
short-period crops during an annual cycle or by pre-
venting the influence of seasonal change.
Heterogeneity of growing conditions between
levels in Stacked Horizontal Conditions Systems
is a potential concern. Gradients of temperature,
light and other factors (Jarvis, 1992)acrossthe
different growing levels may result in unwanted
crop variability. A study of a soilless four tier
strawberry (Fragaria spp.) glasshouse system
found significant differences in a number of
growth parameters between levels, with plants on
the top tier showing higher yield and quality than
those on lower levels, thought to be due to the
greater availability of photosynthetically active
radiation (PAR, Murthy, Karimi, Laxman, &
Sunoj, 2016). In glasshouse-based systems, to
attempt to ensure that each level of the stacked
system receives an equal share of light, supple-
mentary artificial lighting or a rotating mechanism
that moves each level in turn to the top of the
Figure 1. Representation of vertical farming (VF) types. Stacked horizontal systems comprise multiple levels of horizontal
growing surfaces and can be located in glasshouses (a), sometimes with level rotation incorporated, or controlled environment
(CE) facilities (b). A variation of this approach is that of multi-floor towers (c) where each level is isolated from the surrounding
levels. The use of balconies (d) for crop production is another example of VF using stacked horizontal growing surface. Vertical
growing surface include green walls (e), which can be positioned on the side of buildings and other vertical surfaces and
cylindrical growth units (f) with vertical arrangements of plants.
stack can be used to reduce shading of lower levels
and maintain homogeneity of growing conditions
for each level (Massa et al., 2008;Morrow,2008).
Sky Greens, a company based in Singapore, use
a gravity-assisted rotating growing system with
multiple tiers of troughs in an attempt to reduce
supplementary lighting need and overall energy
consumption (Sky Greens, 2018).
Stacked horizontal systems tend to be used in large-
scale commercial enterprises, growing relatively large
volumes of one or several types of crop (for example,
lettuce, spinach (Spinacia oleracea) and tropical leafy
vegetables by Sky Greens (Sky Greens, 2018)). Crop
choice in Stacked Horizontal Systems can be dictated
by the space available between each level, with shorter
crops allowing for a higher number of levels and so
potentially greater yield per unit height of the growth
system. For this reason, smaller crops such as micro-
herbs and spinach (Spinacia oleracea), which also ben-
efit from fast growth, in turn maximising turnover and
profit, are often favoured for their compact growth
habit (Agrilyst, 2017;Table 1). Use of stacked levels
for taller crops such as tomato and pepper may require
changes to cultivation methods and crop varieties to
achieve high yields from shorter plants.
Multi-floor towers
A variation on the concept of Stacked Horizontal
ystemsisthatofMulti-FloorTowers(Figure 1(c)).
In this scenario, rather than the multiple levels of
plant growth occurring in the same chamber (glass-
house or CE), the different levels of planting are
so are isolated from each other. This allows differ-
ent conditions to be maintained for each level of
planting which can allow a wider range of crops to
be grown by tailoring the conditions of each level
to best suit each crop. By using a physical division
between each level of planting this approach is
most suited to CE systems. However, despite
numerous designs (Mok et al., 2014), no Multi-
An alternative to indoor growth in Multi-Floor
Towers is the use of balconies for growing produce
(Figure 1(d)). This approach is more suited to
production on an individual or community basis
rather than commercial enterprises but may prove
useful for the personal production of low-volume
crops such as herbs.
Vertical growth surfaces
Green walls
Green Walls comprise vertical or inclined growing plat-
forms sited in locations such as the façades of buildings
(Figure 1(e))(Köhler,2008). Potential issues with green
walls include the ease of harvest of plants high above
ground level, exposure to urban pollution in walls not
covered by a protective surface and maintenance of an
equal provision of water from the top to bottom of the
wall. Another consideration for the location and dimen-
study (Song, Tan, & Tan, 2018)soughttoevaluatethe
availability of PAR along building surfaces in an urban
environment, in this case a high-density residential area
of Singapore. Based on estimates of plant light require-
ments calculated from leaf physiological traits of seven
leafy vegetables, the study found that façade areas
exposed to direct sunlight for a minimum of half
the day provided sufficient PAR for plants with high
light requirements. The amount of available PAR
increased with building height but was also influenced
by façade orientation and configuration, with east-west
orientated buildings considered to be better for contin-
uous cultivation by avoiding the effects of north-south
oscillation of the sun. The study also highlighted a risk of
excessive and perhaps deleterious PAR levels during the
middle of the day in some areas. These findings prove
promising for the cultivation of vegetables in green walls
but will need to be reassessed to determine growing
conditions in temperate cities and different latitudes.
Cylindrical growth units
In this type of system, plants are grown one above
another around the surface of upright cylindrical units
housing a nutrient supply (soil or hydroponic sub-
strate) and located within a glasshouse or CE facility
(Figure 1(f)). A comparison between a Cylindrical
Growth Unit and a conventional horizontal growing
surface has been made using lettuce (Lactuca sativa cv.
Little Gem) (Touliatos, Dodd, & McAinsh, 2016).
Both systems used hydroponic culture and artificial
Table 1. Examples of crops grown in VF systems in commercial enterprises and academic studies.
Crop Source
Micro greens Growing Underground, 2018; VertiCrop, 2018
Salad leaves Growing Underground, 2018; AeroFarms, 2018; VertiCrop, 2018
Strawberry (Fragaria spp.) Murthy et al., 2016; Saturn Bioponics, 2018; VertiCrop, 2018
Lettuce (Lactuca sativa) Sky Greens, 2018; Touliatos et al., 2016; Saturn Bioponics, 2018
Spinach (Spinacia oleracea) Sky Greens, 2018
Tropical leafy vegetables Sky Greens, 2018
Assorted leafy vegetables Song et al., 2018
Culinary herbs Saturn Bioponics, 2018; VertiCrop, 2018
lighting. The study found that although photosynthetic
photon flux density (PPFD) and lettuce shoot fresh
weight decreased significantly from the top to the base
of the cylinder unit, the Cylindrical Growth Unit was
still able to produce more crop per unit floor area than
the horizontal growing surface. Additional artificial
lighting could help to increase crop uniformity in
such systems (Touliatos et al., 2016). Cylindrical
Growth Units have been used to grow lettuce, straw-
berry and a range of herbs (Saturn Bioponics, 2018).
Considerations for vertical farming
One of the major issues currently facing Vertical
Farming is that of a paucity of scientific studies of
the yield potential, crop quality, energy efficiency and
other parameters of VF systems in order for their
potential to be properly assessed (Al-Chalabi, 2015;
Eigenbrod & Gruda, 2015; Mok et al., 2014; Pinstrup-
Andersen, 2018). However, here we summarise some
of the key considerations for VF systems and their
implications on its potential future success.
Crop choice
Crop range in VF systems is currently limited, with most
producers predominantly favouring salad leaves and
other small leafy vegetables (Agrilyst, 2017;Table 1).
These crop types are well suited to cultivation in VF
systems for a number of reasons. Their small size allows
them to be grown in facilities such as stacked horizontal
systems or cylindrical growth units where space, parti-
cularly in the vertical dimension, is at a premium. Small
plant size also allows a higher number of plants, and so
potentially increased income, per unit area horizontally.
These crops also tend to show rapid growth and a short
timeframe from germination to harvest, increasing the
number of crops that can be produced in a season,
further maximising profitability. A rapid turnover of
crops also allows increased flexibility in planting regime
in terms of crop choice and allows growers to better cope
with problems such as crop loss due to disease or pest
Whilst some small leafy crops such as culinary herbs
and salad greens would be expected to experience rea-
sonably consistent demand year after year, growers of
more trendyvegetables such as micro greens may need
to be amenable to rapid changes in crop choice if such
crops experience a rapid decline in demand, in order to
be replaced by others. Again, the short production
cycles of such crops will prove helpful in this regard.
Investigation of the suitability of VF for the pro-
duction of other crops may help to expand produce
range and income, with some growers already using
VF for crops such as strawberry (Table 1). Fresh
produce crops including leafy vegetables and soft
fruit represent higher value than commodity crops
and can help to maximise income from a limited
amount of growth unit surface. Other crops that are
frequently produced in protected horticulture systems
in Northern Europe, such as tomato and pepper,
could in theory be grown in VF systems, however
their large plant size and relatively long growth cycles
make them less appropriate candidates. In addition,
VF systems could potentially be used for the produc-
tion of non-edible crops such as ornamental flowers.
The start-up costs of VF systems are seen as a major
constraint, with site selection of high importance
(Benke & Tomkins, 2017). While VF is usually dis-
cussed in relation to farming in urban areas, and
therefore must allow for higher land prices than in
rural settings, there is no reason VF systems, particu-
larly those that adapt conventional commercial glass-
house agriculture, cannot be used in rural locations.
This can take advantage of land that is otherwise
unsuited to outdoor (unprotected) agriculture and
which otherwise may remain unused for food pro-
duction, such as waste, depleted or heavy metal-
contaminated ground containing poor or unsuitable
soil, or ex-industrial sites where the ground surface
has been replaced with concrete or brick.
The choice of rural versus urban location is an impor-
tant one. For instance, it has been estimated that the
installation of a rooftop glasshouse requires a minimum
investment three times higher than that for
a conventional ground-based glasshouse due to the
required building adaptation (Brin et al., 2016).
will affect requirements and so costs for artificial lighting
and structure construction. Useofpre-existingbuildings
for CE facilities should however, reduce setup costs
versus dedicated VF structures (Brin et al., 2016).
Banerjee (2014) analysed the economics of
a hypothetical carbon-neutral 37-floor VF facility con-
taining a mixture of agricultural and aquacultural pro-
duction. Due to the degree of stacking and multiple
harvests, the facility would be predicted to provide yields
many times higher than expected from its footprint with
an estimated food cost of between 3.50 and 4.00 per
kilogram. The study concludes that extensive research is
needed for the optimisation of the production process in
such systems in order to reduce costs and that their use
might be feasible, particularly in large cities with very
high purchasing power. Unlike many other food sources,
including commodity crops, the prices for fruit and
vegetables have tended to rise (Wallinga, 2009), which
could reflect limited technological advancements and
economy of scale compared to other crops. High fruit
and vegetable prices could allow VF schemes to recoup
costs more rapidly but also, when combined with start-
up and running costs may risk prices of produce
ultimately being too high for many consumers, relative
to other food sources.
Environmental effects
Vertical farming systems are frequently suggested to
offer reduced environmental impacts compared to exist-
ing supply chains, for example by reducing transport
requirements through locating production in urban
sites. However, it has been calculated that of the total
greenhouse gas (GHG) emission of food systems, pro-
duction accounts for 83%, while transport only accounts
for 11% (Weber & Matthews, 2008). Furthermore, as
predominantly smaller-scale producers, VF enterprises
may lack the increased transport energy efficiency pro-
vided by larger scale and so energy use per transportation
unit may be higher (Schlich et al., 2006; Schlich &
Fleissner, 2003). In contrast, transport distances will be
greatly reduced through urban localisation and may lead
to a net reduction in transport-associated energy
requirements (Pretty, Ball, Lang, & Morison, 2005).
Construction of VF facilities will also generate GHGs
via building construction and energy use. Studies of the
energy use, GHG production, yield and water use of VF
systems are scarce. One study of the dimension optimi-
sation of a hypothetical Multi-Floor Tower design for
lettuce production with artificial lighting, water circula-
tion and solar panels on the roof and one façade calcu-
lated that the solar panels could provide sufficient energy
for the lighting and water pumping requirements of the
system (Al-Chalabi, 2015). However, the carbon foot-
print of the system (CO
/kg lettuce) was five times
higher than for conventional field-grown crops in the
summer and two times higher in the winter when con-
ventional energy sources were used. Increased adoption
of renewal energy infrastructure may therefore increase
the viability and adoption of VF systems.
a simulation-based environmental analysis workflow
has also been used to model GHG production in three
urban farming scenarios a rooftop glasshouse,
a partially enclosed rooftop farm with skylights and side
windows and a completely enclosed urban farm with no
natural light (Benis, Reinhart, & Ferrao, 2017). The simu-
lation considered a large number of production factors
including site, crop, operation model, supplemental light-
ing, thermal considerations, plant growth and water use.
The results indicated that when producing tomatoes, the
rooftop glasshouse and partially enclosed system could
reduce GHG emissions by half and two-thirds, respec-
tively, versus the existing supply chain, but the fully
enclosed system was considered to have the highest
Global Warming Potential (GWP) due to the amount
of supplementary lighting required. These factors will
need to be taken into consideration when choosing VF
Energy requirements
As VF necessitates the use of a glasshouse or controlled
environment facility, so energy use may be expected to
be higher than for field-grown crops. Indeed, 58% of the
energy input for UK horticulture is used for protected
edibles production in glasshouses,whilstonly9%isused
for field crops (Warwick HRI, 2007). It has been found
that glasshouse production of lettuce uses 0.08 GWh/ton
compared to just 0.0014 GWh/ton for field-grown salads
(Warwick HRI, 2007). A model of yield, water and
energy use for lettuce production in a hypothetical
815 m
temperature-controlled NFT hydroponic glass-
house with supplementary lighting and water circulation
has been calculated using engineering equations based
on available data (Barbosa et al., 2015). When compared
to results calculated for conventional field production,
the hydroponic glasshouse had a 10 times greater yield
and 10 times smaller water requirement compared to
conventional production. However, the energy demands
higher. Maximising efficiency in VF systems, which
also frequently employ hydroponic culture, will therefore
be key to their success, although it should be noted that
soil-free cultivation can potentially increase yields up to
10 times compared to soil-based systems (Burrage, 2014;
Savvas, Gianquinto, Tuzel, & Gruda, 2013). CE systems,
with a higher artificial lighting requirement will likely
require even further optimisation for their use to be
widespread. The ongoing balance between agricultural
land availability and energy use will likely dictate the
extent of adoption of VF in the future.
Conclusion and recommendations
Vertical Farming is an emerging technology aiming to
increase crop production per unit area of land in
response to heightened pressure on agricultural pro-
duction. By utilising protected horticulture systems
such as glasshouses and controlled environment facil-
ities in combination with multiple levels of growth
surface and/or inclined production surfaces, VF is
a technically demanding and expensive approach to
crop production. VF therefore necessitates a combined
technical approach to factors including lighting, grow-
ing system, crop nutrition, energy efficiency, construc-
tion and site selection. Whilst VF has been shown to
have potential for the production of a wide range of
crops, the technical and economic optimisation of VF
requires further attention with additional research into
maximising productivity and reducing system costs
being required. Furthermore, VF is currently industry-
led, with a large number of independent start-up com-
panies. Funding for research regarding VF at academic
institutions is limited. This hinders optimisation of the
efficiency of VF growth systems and supply chains
through a lack of standardisation of systems as each
VF enterprise develops its own approach. It also means
that much of the data available for determining VF
feasibility, such as crop yield, is either based on com-
mercial marketing material or conjecture rather than
scientific investigation or is unavailable in the public
sector (Pinstrup-Andersen, 2018). This situation
necessitates further research into the viability of VF
for useful scales of food production. As a sector, VF
would benefit from additional collaboration with aca-
demia in order to realise its potential and determine
the likelihood of VF sector expansion in the future as
a durable source of food production.
Disclosure statement
No potential conflict of interest was reported by the
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... For the practice to succeed in the marketplace, it must compete with a large-scale, highly optimized conventional farming. Notably, vertical farming can be quite energy intensive at its current state (Beacham et al. 2019). Vertical farming has a lot of promise from a macro perspective with regard to the issues we reviewed. ...
... Besthorn (2013) focuses on examining the qualitative potentials of vertical farming from a social and humanities perspective. Beacham et al. (2019) discuss some of the advantages and disadvantages of vertical farming and the issues surrounding its implementation. Garg and Balodi (2014) argue that given the current state of agriculture, the rise of more innovative and sustainable approaches is inevitable. ...
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The sustainability issues surrounding conventional agriculture motivate the need for exploring new sustainable methods of farming, critical for global sustainable development. Vertical farming is a potentially underexplored component of sustainable food production portfolio. This paper offers the first quantitative model in the environmental economics and policy literature that evaluates the economic prospect of vertical farming systems in a competitive market setting. Our framework identifies the principal factors to assess the economic and risk aversion potential of vertical farming and utilize a decision model quantify the trade-off between the two alternative farming practices. The model is utilized to evaluate the competitive economic prospect of vertical farming in seven locations with heterogeneous climate and economic conditions within the USA. The results quantify the value proposition of vertical farming in various conditions. Consequently, we leverage these results to evaluate the current and future prospect of the vertical farming industry. Graphical abstract
... By constructing tall, climate-controlled buildings with many levels of growing space stacked vertically, the challenges to traditional farming can be negated [9]. Whether or not Despommier's ideas for so-called vertical farming are economically feasible has been a subject of much debate [154]. Here, we present an overview of vertical farming setups, comparisons between the different vertical farming types and soil and hydroponic agriculture, and a summary of the advantages and challenges to vertical farming. ...
... Vertical farms without CEA can be implemented in glasshouses, where access to sunlight is an important consideration. For a more detailed breakdown of vertical farming types, see Beacham et al. [154]. ...
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In this literature review, we discuss the various functions of beneficial plant bacteria in improving plant nutrition, the defense against biotic and abiotic stress, and hormonal regulation. We also review the recent research on rhizophagy, a nutrient scavenging mechanism in which bacteria enter and exit root cells on a cyclical basis. These concepts are covered in the contexts of soil agriculture and controlled environment agriculture, and they are also used in vertical farming systems. Vertical farming-its advantages and disadvantages over soil agriculture, and the various climatic factors in controlled environment agriculture-is also discussed in relation to plant-bacterial relationships. The different factors under grower control, such as choice of substrate, oxygenation rates, temperature, light, and CO 2 supplementation, may influence plant-bacterial interactions in unintended ways. Understanding the specific effects of these environmental factors may inform the best cultural practices and further elucidate the mechanisms by which beneficial bacteria promote plant growth.
... En invernaderos donde existe menos control del ambiente, también se han implementado infraestructuras de agricultura vertical para la producción de hortalizas. Los tipos de agricultura vertical son diversos y emplean los sistemas horizontales en niveles (estantes), paredes verticales o torres para la producción de hortalizas (distintos sistemas de producción en agricultura vertical) [18]. Estos sistemas se establecen en galpones, recintos en desuso o contenedores marítimos reciclados. ...
... En agricultura vertical frecuentemente se adaptan los cultivos que tradicionalmente se utilizan en sistema de agricultura protegida comercial, como las hortalizas de hoja, principalmente lechuga en sus diversos tipos, albahaca, kale, rúcula, espinaba baby y otras hierbas [18] al sistema hidropónico. Las empresas deciden producir productos de alta demanda local, especialmente al retail, también a restaurantes y servicios de delivery o suscripción. ...
... Agriculture will have to increase production capacity despite these factors. There is therefore a need for research into more efficient and resilient means of production [7] such as vertical farms. ...
... MACARONS is designed to be easily built out of cheap and easily available components, examples of these are shown in Figure 3. A stacked horizontal system is used due to its simpler geometry when compared to vertical geometries such as the green wall [7]. The design considers both the vertical-farming nature of the system and the robotics, where the support structure both holds up the weight of the crop and provide rails to constrain the robot motion. ...
The Modular Automated Crop Array Online System (MACARONS) is an extensible, scalable, open hardware system for plant transport in automated horticulture systems such as vertical farms. It is specified to move trays of plants up to 1060 mm × 630 mm and 12.5 kg at a rate of 100 mm/s along the guide rails and 41.7 mm/s up the lifts, such as between stations for monitoring and actuating plants. The cost for the construction of one grow unit of MACARONS is 144.96 USD which equates to 128.85 USD/m2 of grow area. The designs are released and meets the requirements of CERN-OSH-W, which includes step-by-step graphical build instructions and can be built by a typical technical person in one day at a cost of 1535.50 USD. Integrated tests are included in the build instructions are used to validate against the specifications, and we report on a successful build. Through a simple analysis, we demonstrate that MACARONS can operate at a rate sufficient to automate tray loading/unloading, to reduce labour costs in a vertical farm. Metadata Overview Main design files: Target group: commercial growers, researchers and hobbyists interested in vertical farming and robotics. Skills required: general mechanical assembly, drilling, soldering, 3D-printing, laser-cutting, Linux command line. Replication: A first build has been completed and tested, meeting the the specification. A second build using the documentation is in progress.
... "Vertical farming" (VF) is a critical emergent concept. It tries to alleviate the burden on traditional agricultural land by farming upwards rather than outwards, and it's notably appealing for application in urban environments because it incorporates soil-free growing technologies [128]. In this area, Monteiro et al. [129] proposed a virtual prototyping model for sustainable agriculture that aims to create a joint structure of IoT-enabled systems involving physical and virtual layers for vertical farming. ...
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Modern technological industries fused with the Internet-of-Things (IoT) have been advancing rapidly. The joint usage of several technologies has led to the reshaping of the modeling and simulation techniques into the virtualization of physical systems. Thus, the concept of virtual prototyping has emerged as a significant development in distributed IoT applications that includes early exploration, optimization, and security assessments. Several industries have been employing various types of prototyping e.g., virtual platforms, digital twins, and application-specific virtualization techniques, to achieve individual needs for development. In this survey, we clarify some of these concepts and the distinctions between them, provide a comprehensive overview of various prototyping technologies, and discuss how several virtualization technologies play a transformative role in the design and operation of intelligent cyber-physical systems.
... However, they do not provide specific measures to increase the level of sustainable development of the food system, fully considering the sustainability, resilience, and versatility of urban agriculture. Article [10] explores various aspects of innovative development, focusing on vertical farming (VF). At the same time, the authors do not convincingly enough discuss the reasons why serious scientific studies of the potential of VF are currently lacking. ...
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The article discusses the means and directions for improving the results of simulation modeling of suburban agriculture and, as a result, the creation of digital twins of farms. Most innovative technologies are still considered new areas for experimentation in agriculture. However, the digital twins being developed for agriculture implement many of the ideas that have already been tested in other industries. The article presents an optimization problem that allows the simulation of suburban agriculture to provide the city with fresh products. Particular attention is paid to modeling the sustainable development of suburban agriculture and the characterization of related data. At the same time, one of the biggest challenges is the need to constantly collect and update expanding data about the object in order to create digital twins. The result of the study is the construction of a simulation modeling system that forms digital twins of suburban crop and livestock production, and the determination of priorities for the selection of relevant data. In order to determine the conditions for realizing opportunities in the transition from suburban farming simulation to digital twins, a general modeling system is presented, consisting of simulation and optimization models, and a set of metrics is selected for the constant collection and updating of the digital twin. The created simulation model was previously worked out by running dozens of different options in the form of sets of initial data, and as a result of the model's operation, the article presents the best (optimal) responses. The necessary steps for the realization of this transition are defined. As a result of the activity of the proposed conceptual system, real-time information, and analytics allows to optimize the performance of the farm
... Numerous variables, including the rise in food prices, social tensions and land disputes, the severity of persevering climate change, and increased urbanization, contribute to the absence of effective planning for food security and sustainability. Contrary to old farming systems, a controlled, automated vertical farming model was introduced, which is an indoor based farm model constituting of an automatic air, temperature, and humidity control, solar panel lighting and heating, tunable 24 h LED illumination, and creative uses of recycled water supplemented by rainwater or water from a desalination facility [126]. The impacts of seasonality can be reduced or completely eliminated when performed in conjunction with temperature and humidity control. ...
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Technological advancements have led to an increased use of the internet of things (IoT) to enhance the resource use efficiency, productivity, and cost-effectiveness of agricultural production systems, particularly under the current scenario of climate change. Increasing world population, climate variations, and propelling demand for the food are the hot discussions these days. Keeping in view the importance of the abovementioned issues, this manuscript summarizes the modern approaches of IoT and smart techniques to aid sustainable crop production. The study also demonstrates the benefits of using modern IoT approaches and smart techniques in the establishment of smart- and resource-use-efficient farming systems. Modern technology not only aids in sustaining productivity under limited resources, but also can help in observing climatic variations, monitoring soil nutrients, water dynamics, supporting data management in farming systems, and assisting in insect, pest, and disease management. Various type of sensors and computer tools can be utilized in data recording and management of cropping systems, which ensure an opportunity for timely decisions. Digital tools and camera-assisted cropping systems can aid producers to monitor their crops remotely. IoT and smart farming techniques can help to simulate and predict the yield production under forecasted climatic conditions, and thus assist in decision making for various crop management practices, including irrigation, fertilizer, insecticide, and weedicide applications. We found that various neural networks and simulation models could aid in yield prediction for better decision support with an average simulation accuracy of up to 92%. Different numerical models and smart irrigation tools help to save energy use by reducing it up to 8%, whereas advanced irrigation helped in reducing the cost by 25.34% as compared to soil-moisture-based irrigation system. Several leaf diseases on various crops can be managed by using image processing techniques using a genetic algorithm with 90% precision accuracy. Establishment of indoor vertical farming systems worldwide, especially in the countries either lacking the supply of sufficient water for the crops or suffering an intense urbanization, is ultimately helping to increase yield as well as enhancing the metabolite profile of the plants. Hence, employing the advanced tools, a modern and smart agricultural farming system could be used to stabilize and enhance crop productivity by improving resource use efficiency of applied resources i.e., irrigation water and fertilizers.
... Thus, reducing favored food transportation [19]. ...
Conference Paper
GCC countries depend on importing their food needs for various reasons abroad for an extended period. The significant issues that decreased the national food production are the need for more experience in cultivating by using innovative technology and the ease of importing with low international prices for foodstuffs compared to the cost of production. Unfortunately, while the economy began to recover from the harmful effects of the COVID pandemic, this recovery was jeopardized due to the impacts of the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, which increased the global prices of essential commodities. Most notably, surging food prices and oil are straining the fiscal balances of many countries and have raised food production insecurity concerns. The authorities received the impacts of the global changes in the smooth food supply in the few years, which led to the delayed arrival of food to Bahrain. In addition to the rise in shipping prices and insurance on food shipments as warning alerts. This problem alarmed the danger of dependence on relying on foreign countries to provide food for the people of Bahrain. Therefore, specialists should think of unique solutions, and efforts must be combined to find a solution for food security. The research will highlight that the method of providing food security using smart and irregular farms inside houses is vital for future food security in the kingdom of Bahrain.
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The growing demands for food with high quality standards and high nutritional value have caused agriculture to evolve towards agricultural innovation go hand in hand with technological development, as is the case of vertical farming (VF) development. VF is a competitive system for sustainable food production, reducing space, and natural and human resources for agricultural production, and it is a system that can be developed anywhere in the world and at any time, without seasonality being a factor that influences production. Light is the most important factor to consider when it comes to vertical farming, replacing sunlight with artificial light has had great advances in improving productivity, especially when using LED lighting. Despite the exponential growth of the system, there is a paucity of analysis on the research that has been carried out to date using a VF system, and on information on the most relevant parameters to be considered for optimum production. This review is a bibliometric analysis of 318 scientific articles taken from the SCOPUS database, where information from 109 papers published in relevant journals was used. During the last 10 years, the number of publications that have been carried out in a VF system has increased by 195%, with China standing out as the geographical location where field experiments are carried out. Lettuce crop predominates in the investigations, with a light intensity of 200 μmol∙m−2∙s−1 and with a photoperiod of 16 h·day−1, using spectra between 450 and 495 nm, and a combination of blue and red (450–495 and 620–750 nm). The use of the research in the VF system for fresh, quality, local produce has increased in recent years, and has proven to be highly effective in productivity and quality. Conditions and management have been generalized, with more than 50% of researchers deciding to perform this cultivation method with similar photoperiod, spectrum, and intensity. Among the conclusions obtained by each researcher, it is also agreed that it is a potentially sustainable and controllable system that can be developed in urban locations, benefiting the social economy, food security, and the environment, while the conclusions on the cent per cent utilization of natural resources (such as energy from sunlight) in the system remain open and improving.
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The unremitting trends of increasing population, urbanization, diminishing water supply, and continuing climate change have contributed to declining stocks of arable land per person. As land resources for agriculture decrease, policy makers are faced with the challenge of sustainability and feeding the rapidly growing world population which is projected to reach approximately 9.7 billion in 2050. Solutions for improving future food production are exemplified by urban vertical farming which involves much greater use of technology and automation for land-use optimization. The vertical farm strategy aims to significantly increase productivity and reduce the environmental footprint within a framework of urban, indoor, climate-controlled high-rise buildings. It is claimed that such facilities offer many potential advantages as a clean and green source of food, along with biosecurity, freedom from pests, droughts, and reduced use of transportation and fossil fuels. In this article, the issues involved are evaluated together with potential advantages and disadvantages. Possible implications are identified for consideration by policy makers and to facilitate further economic analysis.
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Strawberry is being promoted for year round production due to its highly desirable taste, flavour and health properties, and it is possible through soilless cultivation. A study on production of strawberry cv. Festival under vertical growth system with four tiers on soilless medium in a passively ventilated greenhouse was attempted. Significant differences were observed for the growth parameters, viz., number of leaves, leaf area, crown diameter and biomass production. Of the four tiers, first tier planting tended to show the enhanced plant growth and photosynthesis rate with early flowering, higher fruit yield of improved fruit quality than lower tiers tested.
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This report synthesizes the findings from the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment's (MA) global and sub-global assessments of how ecosystem changes do, or could, affect human health and well-being. Main topics covered are: Food, fresh water, timber, fibre, and fuel, nutrient and waste management, pollution, processing and detoxification, cultural, spiritual and recreational services, climate regulation, and extreme weather events. <br /
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Vertical farming systems (VFS) have been proposed as an engineering solution to increase productivity per unit area of cultivated land by extending crop production into the vertical dimension. To test whether this approach presents a viable alternative to horizontal crop production systems, a VFS (where plants were grown in upright cylindrical columns) was compared against a conventional horizontal hydroponic system (HHS) using lettuce (Lactuca sativa L. cv. “Little Gem”) as a model crop. Both systems had similar root zone volume and planting density. Half‐strength Hoagland's solution was applied to plants grown in perlite in an indoor controlled environment room, with metal halide lamps providing artificial lighting. Light distribution (photosynthetic photon flux density, PPFD) and yield (shoot fresh weight) within each system were assessed. Although PPFD and shoot fresh weight decreased significantly in the VFS from top to base, the VFS produced more crop per unit of growing floor area when compared with the HHS. Our results clearly demonstrate that VFS presents an attractive alternative to horizontal hydroponic growth systems and suggest that further increases in yield could be achieved by incorporating artificial lighting in the VFS.
Salad vegetable crops consist of a diverse range of plants that are suitable for eating raw or uncooked. This group includes lettuce, baby leaf, celery, watercress, radish, and salad onion. The crops are fast growing and shallow rooting, and the plants are harvested at a botanically immature stage, prior to reproductive growth. Crops may consist of individual plants or separated leaves. Crop production is intensive and requires regular water and fertilizer inputs. Labor use is high with many of the crops being hand-harvested. The crops are well suited to intensive urban production, and new developments are producing crops in vertical farming systems. The harvested crops deteriorate quickly, but new packaging and postharvest technologies are extending shelf life.
The pursuit of urban agriculture as part of a city's green infrastructure is often a challenge, particularly within compact cities, where there is a limited amount of space between buildings for urban farming and gardening. Instead, such high-rise urban developments present often under-utilized spaces on the vertical surfaces of buildings. A key unknown is the adequacy of light for plant growth. Many leafy vegetables that require high amounts of light form a significant proportion of the staple diet in many Asian countries. We report on the assessment of sunlight adequacy for growing leafy vegetables in a compact tropical city, based on the high-rise and high-density residential environment of Singapore. Leaf physiological traits of seven leafy vegetables were assessed and used to estimate plant light requirements. A survey of photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) along exposed corridors showed that the daily light integral (DLI) value ranged from 2 to 35 mol m⁻² d⁻¹ under relatively ideal weather conditions during days with abundant solar insolation, and façades that experienced a minimum of half-day direct insolation matched the light requirements of vegetables within the moderate to very high-light categories. With regard to the building form, PAR increased gradually with height, but remains highly influenced by façade orientation and configuration. Owing to the annual north–south oscillation of the sun's path, reduced annual PAR variability and higher total annual PAR at façades, buildings with an east–west orientation will better support continuous vegetable cultivation, especially for basic building typologies without self-shading configurations. However, excessive PAR and temperatures during mid-day hours may hinder plant growth. By highlighting such patterns in levels of PAR, this study confirms the potential for high-rise and high-density conditions in the tropics to support farming using typically under-utilized vertical spaces of residential buildings.
Providing healthy food for the world’s growing urban population is a recognized global challenge and it is likely that current modes of conventional, large-scale farming will over time be increasingly complemented by local, urban farming practices. Apart from its acknowledged social benefits, urban farming is also widely viewed as a more resource-efficient alternative to conventional remote farming. Especially indoor, soilless cultivation in urban areas is being portrayed as a particularly sustainable solution. However, as this technique relies on controlled environments, its ongoing operation can be quite energy-intensive and related carbon emissions should be carefully weighed against reduced emissions, such as those from transportation. To further this goal, this article presents a simulation-based environmental analysis workflow for Building-Integrated Agriculture (BIA) in urban contexts, that includes detailed solar radiation, water and energy specific models. The aim of the workflow is to guide the user through decision-making on the potentialities of implementing BIA in a given neighborhood while maximizing crop yields and minimizing water and energy consumption. The workflow was applied to three hi-tech urban farming scenarios in Lisbon, Portugal: a polycarbonate Rooftop Greenhouse (RG), a Vertical Farm (VF) with windows and skylights on the top floor of a reinforced-concrete building as well as a completely opaque VF with no penetration of natural light on the ground floor of a reinforced-concrete building. Global Warming Potential (GWP) related to water, transportation and operational energy of these three case studies were compared to GWP of (i) the currently existing supply chain for tomato, and (ii) a hypothetical low-tech unconditioned rooftop urban farm. Results show that the RG and the top floor VF had the best overall environmental performance, respectively cutting greenhouse gas emissions in half and in three in comparison with the existing supply chain for tomato. By allowing this preliminary assessment of alternative farm locations and properties, the workflow provides the user with actionable information for early-stage holistic assessment of BIA projects.
An enlarged and revised book which looks at some programs of state land use control. Focusing on the problems that have caused the public to demand such controls, on the variety of legislative responses, and on the problems of implementation that arise, this study presents a rationale for the role of the state government in the land use field. Originally published in 1979. © Resources for the Future 1979, Earthscan 1979, 2011. All rights reserved.