Claim Hochschule Weihenstephan-Triesdorf - University of Applied Sciences

50 years of Weihenstephan-Triesdorf University of Applied Sciences: The faces and stories

Research portrait | Indoor Farming

Indoor farming is an extremely hot topic. It combines a lot of innovative disciplines and is becoming increasingly relevant in public debate. Indoor farming involves the cultivation of plants in a closed cultivation system without sunlight and allows every single cultivation parameter to be precisely controlled. One major advantage of indoor farming compared to conventional cultivation outside or in greenhouses is the opportunity to establish completely weather-independent plant production. Crop management is carried out under precisely defined conditions and the quality of the raw materials can be carefully influenced and optimised. What’s more, indoor farming offers enormous potential for the automation of production processes. Combined with alternative energy sources for power, the controlled conditions also enable extremely resource-efficient production. When it comes to the use of water as a resource, indoor farming is by far the most efficient crop system, as the moisture released into the ambient air by the plants is completely recovered and fed back into the irrigation cycle.

Because the cultivation that takes place in an indoor farm is very technical in nature, a high degree of interdisciplinarity is key to its success. This makes the topic ideal as a research area and a basis for close collaboration between different fields of research. Important current research topics in the field of indoor farming include: the resource-efficient and environmentally friendly use of raw materials, the optimisation of horticultural production methods, intelligent energy concepts, and the development of alternative sources of protein or other relevant substances and their application. Another important topic is the integration and use of indoor farming systems across the entire value chain. Prof. Heike Mempel’s research team is working on various projects in the above areas at the dedicated Applied Science Centre (ASC) for Smart Indoor Farming at Weihenstephan-Triesdorf University of Applied Sciences. In a project funded by the Bavarian State Ministry for Science and the Arts with the goal of establishing research structures, the overarching research aim is to establish indoor farming as a means of facilitating the efficient, precisely controlled and therefore high-quality and reliable production of economically relevant plant-based raw materials. In this interdisciplinary project, as well as seeking to optimise crop management, the researchers are also examining the potential and opportunities that this technology holds for subsequent steps in processing and product development, as well as the impact on the supply chain as a whole.

There is already close cooperation in the field of indoor farming with Humboldt University of Berlin as part of the Cubes Circle project, which is one of eight projects in the BMBF cluster 'Agricultural systems of the future', with the Technical University of Munich and with various other universities and companies.

Further information on ASC and the research projects (in German):