Vertical farming increases lettuce yield per unit area compared to conventional horizontal hydroponics

Dionysios (Dennis) Touliatos, Ian C. Dodd, Martin McAinsh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

152 Citations (Scopus)
178 Downloads (Pure)


Vertical farming systems (VFS) have been proposed as an engineering solution to increase productivity per unit area of cultivated land by extending crop production into the vertical dimension. To test whether this approach presents a viable alternative to horizontal crop production systems, a VFS (where plants were grown in upright cylindrical columns) was compared against a conventional horizontal hydroponic system (HHS) using lettuce (Lactuca sativa L. cv. “Little Gem”) as a model crop. Both systems had similar root zone volume and planting density. Half-strength Hoagland's solution was applied to plants grown in perlite in an indoor controlled environment room, with metal halide lamps providing artificial lighting. Light distribution (photosynthetic photon flux density, PPFD) and yield (shoot fresh weight) within each system were assessed. Although PPFD and shoot fresh weight decreased significantly in the VFS from top to base, the VFS produced more crop per unit of growing floor area when compared with the HHS. Our results clearly demonstrate that VFS presents an attractive alternative to horizontal hydroponic growth systems and suggest that further increases in yield could be achieved by incorporating artificial lighting in the VFS.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)184-191
Number of pages8
JournalFood and Energy Security
Issue number3
Early online date6 Jun 2016
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use,
distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


  • Land use efficiency
  • plant factory
  • urban agriculture
  • vertical column grower


Dive into the research topics of 'Vertical farming increases lettuce yield per unit area compared to conventional horizontal hydroponics'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this