We are happy to announce an NSF funded workshop on the Challenges in Vertical Farming,

Sep 26, 2012 at the  University of Maryland Conference Center.    Here is some motivation:


By the year 2050, we expect human population to increase to 9 billion and to be

further concentrated in urban centers. An estimated billion hectares of new land

will be needed to grow enough food to feed the earth. At present, however, over

80% of the land suitable for raising crops is already in use. Further, if trends in

climate change persist, the amount of land available for farming will decrease.

Since crops consume 87% of all water used globally, an increase in water usage

is not possible. Finally, while the need is for 50% higher yield by the year 2050

to maintain the status quo, we expect agricultural productivity to decline significantly

across the world, especially in densely populated areas. There is an urgent need for

high-yield agriculture that decreases the use of water and carbon based inputs per

unit of product, while simultaneously reducing vulnerability of crops to natural

environmental conditions. Vertical Farming (using controlled environments for

urban agriculture) will reduce transportation energy required from the distant

outdoor farms. Recent implementations have shown high yields in the production

of vegetables in controlled environments. Water usage has been significantly

reduced compared to traditional outdoor farming, and crops are shielded from

adverse climate, and, from pests and diseases. In addition, Vertical Farming has

the potential to provide fresher and healthier produce to the local consumer.


Since no one community or technology holds the magic key, the opportunity for

is to collectively enumerate and prioritize the challenges that must be addressed to

bring high yield, resource efficient agriculture to fruition.  The greatest contribution

from this workshop could be a roadmap for governmental agencies and researchers

to follow as they weigh their priorities in the coming years.  Obviously the needs will

vary depending on the locale addressed– we expect that the needs for developing

countries will be different than those that are less resource constrained.

The goal of our workshop is to capture the state of the art in agriculture in controlled

environments, to define a research agenda for the future and to establish a working

group at the nexus of Agriculture, Engineering, Economics and Architecture. The

output of the workshop will be a report that could serve as the basis of research agenda

by agencies such as the NSF, USDA and USAID.



We have assembled a group of experts from around the world to address various aspects — horticulture,

lighting, irrigation, automation, architecture, economics and outreach–  of vertical farming.  More

information including the list of speakers, registration for attendance (in person or via live webcast) is

available  at:


Please feel free to forward this notice to those interested in participating in the workshop.


1.                    SANJIV SINGH (CARNEGIE MELLON)

2.                    DICKSON DESPOMMIER (COLUMBIA)

3.                    GENE GIACOMELLI (UNIV OF ARIZONA)

4.                    MARC VAN IERSEL (UNIV OF GEORGIA)

5.                    JOEY NORIKANE (FRAUNHOFER)

6.                    GEORGE KANTOR (CARNEGIE MELLON)


8.                    MICHAEL HOADLEY

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