Vertical farming versus conventional farming: A comparative study

Vertical farming is an emerging practice consisting in cultivating crops under full LED conditions on vertically stacked layers which provides numerous advantages compared to conventional farming (i.e. greenhouses). Firstly, vertical farms can be implemented in existing empty buildings or warehouses allowing for locally-grown fresh produce thereby reducing transport costs and associated pollution. Secondly, these facilities are based on sustainable, efficient and fully-controlled cultivation methods providing optimal quality vegetable throughout the whole year irrespective of the seasons of the fluctuating weather. Lastly, water, land and pesticides use are greatly reduced in vertical farms. Even though vertical farms seem to represent a true revolution in the production of fresh vegetables, one outstanding question remains to be answered: Is vertical farming providing better/healthier produce compared to conventional farming? This is what you will attempt to find out.

This project will focus on lettuce, one of the most important crop in vertical farming and most economically valuable leafy vegetable crops worldwide. In this project, you will compare different growth conditions on lettuce growth and nutritional value to better evaluate the health benefits of crops grown in vertical farms compared to other methods. This knowledge could help promoting the use of vertical farming methods to provide better and healthier lettuce crops on the market.

Used skills

  • Lettuce cultivation
  • Phenotyping
  • qPCR
  • HPLC
  • Data analysis

Interested in doing a BSc or MSc thesis at HPP? Please contact the HPP student coordinator Katharina Hanika.