Vertical Farm

Structures used as urban gardens or greenhouses for in-city farming. Data acquired from sensors is fed back to the software, which determines with a high level of precision how to increase crop yields while using no pesticides and less water and lower transportation emissions and costs.
Technology Life Cycle

Technology Life Cycle


Marked by a rapid increase in technology adoption and market expansion. Innovations are refined, production costs decrease, and the technology gains widespread acceptance and use.

Technology Readiness Level (TRL)

Technology Readiness Level (TRL)

Prototype Demonstration

Prototype is fully demonstrated in operational environment.

Technology Diffusion

Technology Diffusion

Early Adopters

Embrace new technologies soon after Innovators. They often have significant influence within their social circles and help validate the practicality of innovations.

Vertical Farm

Towers, high buildings, or shipping containers are used as urban gardens or greenhouses for in-city or near-city farming. The facility is mostly automated, and the vertically stacked movable trays of produce are nurtured with the right amount of light, water, and nutrients at the optimal temperature and humidity. A specific software makes these measurements based on relevant data acquired by sensors. This high level of precision allows for increased crop yields while using no pesticides and less water, as vertical farms can recapture and recycle water. Vertical farms also aim to reduce the distance crops have to travel compared to remote farming.

By naturally reducing CO2 and the cost of food transportation with the use of symbiotic solutions, vertical farms could provide a sustainable and local choice not only by helping eliminate food deserts but also by helping tackle urban pollution issues coming from transportation and supply-chain logistics. As water, nutrients, and energy are allocated and circulated, vertical farms open up the future for greener urban development on a scale never seen before.

This solution could create conditions for people to eat more fresh and nutritious food based on short food supply chains and reduce the amount of food that is either lost or wasted. However, the most significant obstacles in implementing vertical urban farms include economic feasibility, zoning codes, energy consumption, regulations, and a lack of expertise in running a facility that relies on software and machine-generated light to function.

Future Perspectives

To achieve food security in the coming years, we must accelerate and scale up actions to strengthen the resilience and adaptive capacity of food systems and people’s livelihoods. By growing food in places previously considered unsuitable for agriculture, urban politics could promote sustainable urban development focused on food security.

Within the complex system of a vertical farm, everything from water to nutrition, sunlight, temperature, and air quality would be measured and controlled autonomously. In the future, these complexes could function as housing for people living in cities, with the possibility of merging food production with consumption. The human living space might be more intertwined with plants and organized according to climatic zones, thus reframing traditional living mindsets. Besides that, by the insertion of pollinator-friendly plants, these places will be able to help such species increase their populations.

These farming systems could also become an excellent opportunity to make use of existing urban spaces like abandoned buildings once their structures could one day become indoor farms. Hence, if managed by a local community, places like old factories or warehouses could help communities come together for a commonwealth, thus prioritizing the food needs of a specific area instead of a whole city.

Image generated by Envisioning using Midjourney

A media article describing the potentials of vertical farming.
Under construction in Sweden, the World Food Building is both an office tower and vertical farm. Here's what it will look like.
SoftBank-backed Plenty is out to build massive indoor farms on the outskirts of every major city on Earth.
Plantagon celebrates the ground breaking of their first urban greenhouse in Linkoping, Sweeden.
Architects have come up with spectacular concepts for vertical farms that would grow crops in city skyscrapers. But many horticulturists think the future of vertical farming isn't in skyscrapers, but rather in large, indoor warehouses lit up magenta by superefficient LEDs.
New 'pinkhouses' are the wave of the future for indoor vertical farming using an energy efficient mix of red and blue LED lights that can cut down on power bills and environmental impact.

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