Study on outdoor vertical farming on textile substrates

Vertical farming may solve the problem that in many regions of the world, more area would be necessary to produce food, than it is available. Especially in large cities and other densely crowded areas, vertical farming can provide an efficient and eco-friendly way to feed people. While indoor vertical farming plants are usually highly automatized, outdoor approaches are usually less professionally setup and thus often prone to drying-out, in this way disturbing of even destroying the plants grown in such setups. Here we report on semi-automated irrigation systems, combined with different textile substrates to reduce the risk of fully dried substrates, in order to make inexpensive, successful vertical farming systems available for everybody.

Different substrates were used to investigate the water storage capability and as substrates: mineral wool, sponges, coco mats, and hemp fiber mats. Drying of these materials was tested by defined irrigation and constantly measuring the masses during the drying process.

In general, the mineral wool was found to be superior in terms of water retention and plant growth. Besides salads, different herbs grew well under heavy conditions. On the other hand, some plants were found to grow better on sponges, suggesting that substrates should be chosen according to the requirements of the respective plants.

Read the complete research at

Dirkes, L & Massanés, J & Böttjer, Robin & Storck, Jan & Ehrmann, Andrea. (2021). Outdoor vertical farming on textile substrates. IOP Conference Series Materials Science and Engineering. 1031. 012020. 10.1088/1757-899X/1031/1/012020. 

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