By Sven Ruigrok (the Netherlands)
The rise in urban population and increasing stress on agricultural land in combination with the advancement in technology of indoor farming have sparked the idea of producing food in urban areas in vertical farms. Decision making of vertical farm location is done without a proper consideration of spatial conditions that influences its success. Research on the location, or spatial characteristics of vertical farming is virtually absent. This study is the first endeavour of a location analysis for vertical farming. A literature and interview analysis are performed to examine criteria that are of importance. Twelve criteria were found that are valid in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, and are used as an input for a spatial GIS (Geographical Information System) based Multi-Criteria Analysis (MCA). Five scenarios that can motivate decision-makers were formulated. The MCA led to suitability maps for vertical farming according to the scenarios. Vacant buildings and lots are used exemplary to demonstrate how the suitability maps can help in guiding the decision-making process. The scenarios show how different approaches to vertical farming can lead to a different suitability and decision of a vertical farm’s location. Improved understanding of the impact of spatial criteria is achieved and the use of these criteria gives valuable insight into the context-dependent suitability of vertical farms. Applying the same strategy to another study area needs careful re-assessment of the criteria there and their overall validity. Results are affected by the availability and quality of the (spatial) data.