Universiteit Leiden

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Research project

SKY HIGH: Vertical farming a revolution in plant production

As a new vision on food production, the feasibility study on LED light to grow crops with the biological- and chemical evaluation of final products.

2020 - 2023
Young Hae Choi
  • Wageningen University & Research (coordinator) 
  • Delft University of Technology (TUD) 
  • Eindhoven University of Technology (TUe) 
  • University of Amsterdam (UvA) 
  • Utrecht University (UU) 
  • Signify (Philips Lighting) 
  • Own Greens 
  • OneFarm 
  • GrowX 
  • Grodan Priva 
  • Cethon 
  • Bosman van Zaal 
  • Van Bergen Kolpa Architects 
  • Bayer 
  • Frech Forward 
  • Solynta 
  • Unilever 
  • Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Metropolitan Solutions (AMS)


Climate change, scarcity of freshwater, intensive pesticide use, mineral resource depletion, rapidly urbanising societies all challenge our food system to feed cities. To cope with these issues a farming revolution, called vertical farming is starting. Vertical farming is a novel technology where plants are grown on many stacked layers with LED light. It is a secure and sustainable route to provide cities with fresh food. The Netherlands has the potential to become the world leader in vertical farming. Both the fresh food and high-tech systems represent very high market value as Dutch export products.

This program targets a revolution in the production of fresh vegetables. The ambition is a secure and sustainable vegetable supply: no pesticides, no nutrient emission, only 2-4 litres water per kg produce, at least twentyfold less land use, lower food mileage, less waste and lower energy use per kg produce compared to greenhouses. These vegetables have a greatly improved quality (taste, aroma, appearance, shelf life, nutritional value, safety) compared to conventionally produced vegetables. Vertical farming allows for guarantees on vegetable quantity and quality every day of the year independent of weather and is therefore resilient to climate change.

This program develops concepts for design and control of vertical farms that meet all mentioned targets on sustainability, yield, and quality, based on a fundamental understanding of the different components of vertical farming. This is achieved by a coordinated effort of researchers from disciplines ranging from genetics, breeding, metabolomics, physiology, horticulture, machine learning, climate control, energy systems and building physics together with a variety of leading companies.

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