Growing food in our increasingly variable climate is a challenge. Growing crops in a controlled environment provides an alternative approach to conventional farming which is free from the pressures created by extremes and variations in our weather, isolated from pests and allows crop growth at a wider range of latitudes.

Vertical farming is a relatively recent development with the first commercial vertical farm being reported as developed in 2012 in Singapore. Grand View Research estimated that the value of the vertical farming market would reach almost US$10 by 2025.

Developing indoor vertical farms requires a good understanding of all the requirements each crop plant will need for optimal growth and development. As a relatively new technology, research can have a big impact on how successful these enterprises will be in the longer term with expertise in plant physiology supporting improvements to these systems.

Dr. Antony Dodd’s research into the plant circadian clock had found that optimizing growing conditions to match the clock resulted in plants that contained more chlorophyll, allowing them to convert more of the available light into biomass and grow faster. Experimentally, productivity could be doubled by matching the circadian rhythm to the photoperiod in the growing environment. The capacity to control conditions precisely within a vertical farm means that the environment can be fine-tuned to the requirements of the crop to maximize yield.

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