How to build a successful vertical farm

The interest in growing plants indoors in vertical farms keeps increasing. Business expert Ellis Janssen with Signify shares 3 key lessons learned from building a successful vertical farm enterprise regarding climate, lighting, and spacing.

The most crucial part when setting up an indoor farm is to have a grower that understands how to cultivate plants indoors. New (sensor) technologies and the Internet of Things (IoT) offer great opportunities for indoor farming, but if you do not have a grower, you will not get the most out of your operation. You can have great packaging and attractive marketing tools, but the product itself will determine your success. That being said, these are some of the most important factors that can determine the success or failure of your vertical farm investment:

  • Crop selection
  • Lighting selection and design
  • Airflow design and climate control
  • Spacing strategies for plants
  • Crop logistics and automation
  • Irrigation and nutrition
  • Data, sensors, control, and software
  • Substrate choice
  • Target audience and sales channels

Ellis Janssen

"When we look at how to get the highest return on investment for a vertical farm, we focus on creating a facility that allows you to produce the highest yield of crops (measured in grams) using the most ideal amount of light (measured in moles or mol). That’s because your LED grow lights are amongst the highest expenses in city farming infrastructure and operation," Janssen said. Keeping that in mind, here are a few of our most valuable tips for increasing your grams per mol. The information is based on research from the Philips GrowWise Center, as well as commercial projects in a variety of locations ranging from the US to Japan and Europe.

Step 1: Get the climate right
One aspect that many new vertical farm growers overlook when creating an indoor farming environment is maintaining the best climate conditions. If we assume 50% of the electrical input power is converted into light, the remaining 50% is converted directly into heat. Proper airflow can remove direct heat, but the light that is absorbed by crops will indirectly be converted into heat too. Typically, crops evaporate water to eliminate indirect heat. However, this process results in higher humidity. To keep increasing humidity and temperature under control, you must implement good ventilation and air handling system in your vertical farm. Without this, yields will decrease, resulting in additional costs and hassle after installation to fix inefficiencies.

Step 2: Get the lighting right
Once you have established good climate conditions, how can you get the highest yields from it? 

Read the complete article with more tips at


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