This project, holding a two-day workshop which will bring together experts from a wide range of disciplines to articulate the challenges involved in Vertical Farming, will invigorate the research community. Vertical Farming is an indoor, urban farming concept that solves many energy problems associated with outdoor farming. Recent implementations have shown very high yields in the production vegetables, including green peppers and tomatoes, spinach and lettuce. In many cases, water usage has been significantly reduced compared to traditional outdoor farming, and the conditions in which the crops are grown naturally shields them from unseasonal climate, and, from pests and diseases. In addition, Vertical Farming has the potential to generate fresher and healthier produce at reasonable cost.

The proposed research has direct impact on the way the majority of the world's population lives. Agriculture impacts each and every one of us. Transformational technology is needed to meet the needs of simply feeding people in the coming decades. We need food to be safe such that it doesn't harm people because of the methods of cultivation used. Finally, agriculture has the potential to negatively impact the environment if not managed carefully and intentionally. This workshop will impact the way that crops are grown in the future, producing safe food, with a low environmental footprint.

Project Report

The objective of the workshop "Challenges in Vertical Farming" was to capture the state of the art, define a research agenda and establish a working group in the area of indoor agriculture that worked at the intersection of Biology, Engineering, Economics and Architecture. A video summarizing the motivation for progress in sustainable, high-yield agriculture is available at: The workshop brought together researchers and growers from various discpilines across the world and was livecast on the internet. 75 people attended the first day of the workshop held at the Unbiversity of Maryland on Sep 26, 2012. The program consisted of 16 talks and 2 panel sessions. 151 people registered to attend the workshop over the internet. The talks and slides from this workshop have been made available to public at: The second day of the workshop was organized as a working group discussion to generate a report to determine the grand challenges in key areas of vertical farming. The task was to determine an outline of a report to be created at a later date that would serve as an agenda for future development efforts. A consensus from this workshop was that it was very useful to convene a research group of a participants from diverse backgrounds. Future, similar workshops are under consideration.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Computer and Network Systems (CNS)
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Richard Voyles
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Carnegie-Mellon University
United States
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