It is no secret that our population is exploding. No matter how you look at it, our increasing population will force us to use our land better. No longer can space be misused or left idle; it must be built up into new housing and public areas for the growing population. But one of the largest uses of land is farming. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), about 41% of land is farmland, 44% of which is attributed to cropland10. This is a huge amount of land that could, in theory, be used for other practices like housing.

That is where vertical farming comes in. Vertical farming is the practice of farming indoors by giving plants a regulated environment to grow in. This allows for crops to be grown quicker and harvested more often. Crops are also not affected by weather because they are grown indoors. Plus, vertical farming takes up less space than the average farm. Instead of requiring acres of land, vertical farms can be built on ½ an acre of land right in the middle of cities. 

The goal of this paper is to twofold: to discuss the benefits of vertical farming compared to traditional farming and discuss technological changes that will lead to more cost effective vertical farms. This will be analyzed through a comparison of traditional and vertical farming and a prototype vertical farm design with descriptions and layouts of each floor. Additionally, A knapsack problem will show a crop analysis of the system and which crops are most profitable. Finally, this paper will discuss the technological changes that will lead to more cost effective vertical farms.

Advisors:

Dr. Konstantina Kiousis

Olin Business School

Dr. Brian Bassham

McKelvey School of Engineering

Group Members:

Neal Bansal

B.S. Systems Engineering 2020

nealbansal@wustl.edu

Nish Chakraburtty

B.S. Systems Engineering 2020

achakra@wustl.edu

Sean Rogers

B.S. Systems Engineering 2020

strogers@wustl.edu