By Adriaan van der Giessen > 13 Apr, 2017

The Rotterdam Food Cluster is studying the potential of a vertical farm in the Rotterdam Region. In a vertical farm plants, herbs or crops are grown on multiple layers without daylight. All the desired cultivation conditions can be simulated with the aid of LED lighting and climate computers. This makes it possible to cultivate crops that cannot grow naturally in our climate. Therefore, vertical farming is an appealing alternative for AGF businesses and processors that currently import products from all over the globe. At the same time the horticulture sector acquires new knowledge to apply in locations worldwide where there is a high demand for fresh food.

Vertical farming in Rotterdam

Work is currently underway on an outline design for a vertical farm with a cultivation surface of 10 hectares. The intended location is Nieuw-Reijerwaard, the AGF trade and logistics hub. This scale means we satisfy the level of ambition of the participating AGF businesses. The vicinity of large AGF businesses results in the shortest possible delivery times. Harvesting to order allows an even more flexible response to market demand.

Would you like to help develop the vertical farm?

We are still looking for businesses and experts in the field who would like to help develop the vertical farm with new innovations. This could involve practical matters such as which crop responds best to a particular colour lighting. Or how to translate external data and that collected by soil sensors into action in the greenhouse. What is the optimal light formula, and which nutrients do you add at which times? Another important factor is smart hardware: What are the opportunities for automation using robots, and what can artificial intelligence do for vertical farming?

Are you a front runner in the horticultural sector, AGF trade or logistics? Would you like to collaborate on this project or receive more information?

Contact Adriaan van der Giessen

Vertical farming solution for global food issues

The Rotterdam region has a wealth of market gardening knowledge. And indeed, this knowledge is found to be very attractive abroad, so a large part is sold as an export product. But the worldwide urbanization and climate change is also forcing us to design more efficient ways of producing food at locations in and around cities. Vertical Farming offers an excellent opportunity for the ultimate win-win situation: Rotterdam region as the knowledge carrier of a new specialism that can offer achievable solutions to worldwide food issues.

Vertical farming solution for megacities in Japan and China

For new emerging megacities in Japan and China, vertical farming is a serious option. They are concerned with the pivotal question: how do I feed my citizens? People in those cities are prepared to pay a dollar more for a head of lettuce from a vertical farm. In 2030 approximately two thirds of the world population is expected to live in cities. Not simply because there will be new cities, but mainly because existing cities are growing rapidly. Metropolises with over 10 million citizens will no longer be an exception.

These emerging and rapidly growing cities demand a solution to problems like water and energy management, food supply, logistics, housing, health, liveability and sustainability. With the tried and tested vertical farms in Rotterdam, we can supply a large part of the world with innovative local food systems.

Researching new business models vertical farming

The knowledge on vertical greenhouses is already there, but it is not developed as far as the regular market gardening industry. Technically it is already possible to grow tomatoes in several layers up to 30 metres in height. But now it is about researching new business models. Rotterdam will play an active part in this. We involve entrepreneurs to validate the study and entrepreneurs learn more and more about high-tech and production in a way that is responsible for the future. We search for sustainable solutions like experimenting with new crops and varieties, reducing water waste en reusable residual flows. Education plays an important role in vertical farming, we now have to educate talents with the knowledge of tomorrow. In the autumn of 2018 students at Inholland University of Applied Sciences begin a study into feasible business models for a vertical farm in Nieuw Reijerwaard. When their research has been completed, we will publish the results.