Vertical farm environmentally outperforms conventional counterparts in new study

Recent research carried out at IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute and KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm concludes that the vertical farm of Ljusgårda has a substantially lower environmental impact throughout its production cycle than imported lettuce grown in fields and greenhouses. The results are an important step towards reimagining our food systems.

The promise of indoor vertical farms where crops are grown in closed ecosystems open to infinite optimization has often hinted at being more sustainable than its conventional counterparts. A Life Cycle Assessment carried out by researchers Michael Martin, Mugahid Elnour, and Aina Cabrero compares the Swedish vertical farm of Ljusgårda to conventionally imported and domestic lettuce from a cradle-to-grave perspective.The results are a world-first for the developing field of vertical farming and the team calls for more longitudinal research to track and highlight the exponential development led by vertical farmers all over the world. 

”Our study suggests that Ljusgårda is succeeding in producing lettuce with lower environmental impact than conventionally imported varieties. It is, however, important to note that our conclusions are context-dependent and cannot be generalized in other regions. We now need to follow-up the research to track new findings over time”, says Michael Martin, Senior Researcher and Adjunct Professor of Sustainable Production and Consumption Systems, IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute and KTH Royal Institute of Technology

Ljusgårda is a large-scale vertical farm operating out of a repurposed furniture factory in Tibro, Sweden. In 2022, the site reached a production capacity of 520 tonnes of lettuce and sold in over 500 retail stores across the country. The technological trajectory of Ljusgårda was initiated by Erik Lundgren in 2017. His Samoan heritage has granted him both a High Chief title and an acute sense of how climate change is affecting our world.

”We can’t afford to view industry and nature as opposites. To build a new food system we need to create closed efficient ecosystems that can unload the planet. That gives us a framework where we can increase nutrition levels and yield of traditional and novel produce while decreasing its environmental impact. We call it Bio-Industrial Synergy. The results of this study confirm that we are definitely doing something right and that technology has a huge part to play in solving our future food systems”, says Erik Lundgren, Co-Founder and R&D Manager, Ljusgårda

The company sees the study as a confirmation of its efforts and hopes that it can help shed light on other revolutionary aspects of controlled environment agriculture - such as unlocking potential for growing plants with much higher amounts of nutrients and vitamins than food available today . Ljusgårda is also looking into introducing nutritious superplants sourced worldwide that haven’t been possible to produce with conventional methods in Europe but are well suited for production within indoor farms.

Martin, Michael Alan and Elnour, Mugahid, Environmental Life Cycle Assessment of a Large-Scale Commercial Vertical Farm (May 31, 2023).

Download study here: https://ssrn.com/abstract=446540


For more information please contact:
Hermes Holm
+46 737 19 74 58


About Ljusgårda

Järnvägsgatan 3
543 50 Tibro


Swedish Ljusgårda is an indoor vertical farm, producing among the largest commercial yields in the world. With an industrial approach the company aims to democratise sustainable and high-quality produce through large scale production and competitive consumer pricing. Ljusgårda specializes in building AI-optimised indoor ecosystems to create controlled environments with ideal growing conditions for each specific plant. Founded in 2018 and backed by reputable and long-term investors, Ljusgårda strives spearhead the development of new and scalable food systems

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