Horticulture comprises the cultivation of fruits, vegetables, berries and ornamental plants. Urban horticultural activities range from community gardening, commercial indoor and outdoor production, to vertical farming.
Horticultural research can focus on different forms and applications of cultivation in urban environments and their associated challenges and opportunities. Improving farming efficiency, industry profitability and consumer satisfaction are key focus areas of horticultural research, as well as studies into the environmental challenges of cultivation like air pollution, soil and water contamination, as well as practical challenges of trialing tests relating to climate control, energy consumption, and general growing conditions. These can be reflected in studies relating to new farming techniques such as smart indoor vertical farming as an advanced form of precision agriculture.
At SLU, controlled environment farming systems are being developed most significantly at the LTV faculty. Facilities include greenhouses, equipment and materials for hydroponic, vertical and indoor production; physical resources that are continuously arranged and adapted to enable experimental research and teaching activities. Current research spans a broad range of production techniques such as high-tech smart indoor vertical farming, creating fertilizers from bio-waste, pollution issues, the testing of different growing media as well as the exploration of different lighting systems and their impacts on production and quality; especially health beneficial phytochemicals and antioxidant accumulation as well as food safety.
Other themes explored are rooftop farming applications, growing food indoors and under urban outdoor conditions, with low-tech or high-tech systems, and the implications of these techniques in terms of improving access to high quality safe fresh food, and human wellbeing by growing their own food. In many instances, these research areas depart from an ambition to make better use of by-products from urban areas, such as heat, CO2, biological waste, and water, for example to clean air, manage urban waste and produce food at the same time.
Naznin Most Tahera, Assistant Professor, Department of Biosystems and Technology.