Urban farming comprises cultivation methods and locations which often differ from our conventional perception of food production. Instead of exploiting our dwindling agricultural areas, many urban farming initiatives instead rely on indoor cultivation or vertical cultivation or use facilities originally designed for an entirely different context, e.g. rooftops and walls.

These alternative cultivation practices require in-depth knowledge of plant growth requirements and conditions, in terms of which nutritional inputs are available, what kinds of plant protection can be implemented and how to safely extract and reuse wastewater from cultivation taking place under urban or peri-urban conditions.

Optimized cultivation through vertical production and artificial light

Whether we can succeed with alternative forms of cultivation in urban areas depends to a great extent on the demands consumers make regarding food and agricultural products. There will be some production systems, such as the cultivation of insects and leafy greens, where the advantages of production in intensive urban farming systems will be more apparent.

For alternative cultivation methods in urban farming to be relevant in an economic context, growers will need to know how to optimise cultivation under various unfamiliar conditions and elements. This applies, among others, to artificial light, hydroponic systems and vertical greenhouse production.

Experimental data and knowledge in this area exist, but more data is needed to establish the right framework for scaling urban farming initiatives so that they are economically profitable and provide a sufficient return on investment.

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