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Technical Path of Plant Factories to Support Development of Urban Horticulture

Source: Institute of Urban Agriculture

The Innovation Team of Plant Factory from Institute of Urban Agriculture, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (IUA, CAAS), has proposed a novel technical path recently. This research has been published in Horticulture Research (IF: 6.793) with the title "Plant factory technology lights up urban horticulture in the post-coronavirus world".


Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the importance of food security has been much concerned, including food production, food transportation, and food supply. The plant factory with artificial lightning system (PFAL) ultimately aims for stable and effective food production, which contains several novel approaches including automatic fertigation system, vertical cultivation system with soilless culture, environmental factors precision controlling system, artificial intelligence decision-based algorithm, optimized lighting database, attracting increasing attention.



In this review, we described the constitutions and characteristics of the plant factory, emphasizing its advantages for high-quality food production. In addition to its contribution to food security, plant factory also provides non-food products, plus a number of functionalities. Accordingly, plant factory also provides urban agriculture associated services including the provisioning services (e.g. food supply), social services (e.g. providing places and opportunities to understand the agricultural production process), habitat services (e.g. contributing to urban biodiversity), and cultural services (e.g. recreation, amenity or social inclusion). Therefore, PFAL has great potential for addressing the most challenging issues in agricultural science and associated fields, such as population growth, water scarcity, loss of arable land, food safety, and supply chain challenges. It will thus undoubtedly play an important role in the agricultural revolution, food security, carbon neutralization, and the future of humankind. In addition, innovation within PFAL will promote the future integration of current agricultural practices with other rapidly developing techniques (e.g. artificial intelligence, advanced materials, synthetic biology) and help to achieve the global objectives of sustainable agriculture. Thus, this paper provides an effective way for plant factory innovation research and industrial expansion, and puts forward new insight for the development of urban horticulture industry during and after the epidemic.


The research was supported by the National Key Research and Development Program (No. 2020YFE0203600), the Central Public-Interest Scientific Institution Basal Research Fund (No. Y2021XK04), and the Agricultural Science and Technology Innovation Program (ASTIP-CAAS, 34-IUA-01, and 34-IUA-03).


The link of the paper: 




By Zhang Li (zhangli10@caas.cn)