August 2, 2021
UL, based in more than 100 countries, provides testing, inspection and certification (TIC), training, decision-making tools and intelligence, to help our customers meet important business objectives.
Vertical Farming – Market Trends
According to MarketsandMarkets™ — an online business-to-business market research company— the vertical farming market is projected to grow from USD 2.9 billion in 2020 to USD 7.3 billion in 2025, for a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 20.2%.
The vertical farming market is now global, with several operational installations in the U.S., Singapore, the Netherlands, Germany, Finland, Sweden and Australia, to name a few1.
The key drivers for growth in this market are year-round crop production, efficient use of farming space and the absence of chemicals and pesticides. Coupled with significant automation, the seed to harvest process is accelerated, ensuring fresh produce is available and can reach consumers. Automation results in significant cost savings and delivery times for produce to market is reduced by locating farms in urban population centers.
Vertical farms use an indoor environment to control light, temperature, humidity, water supply, carbon dioxide and nutrient content, stimulating the ideal conditions to maximize yield and minimize resources for growing crops.
Vertical farms have also benefited from advances in technologies, including the Internet of Things (IoT) enabled devices, machine vision systems, light-emitting devices, machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI), among many others.
Vertical Farming System – Overview
A typical vertical farming system includes some or all the following systems:
- An enclosed area
An enclosed area can be an existing warehouse, custom-built building or pre-constructed, stacked module that house crops and create a controlled environment.
- Horticultural Luminaires
Custom-built luminaires create a photosynthesis environment ideally tailored to the crops being grown. Many of these luminaires have the radiation output adjusted to the specific crops.
- Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC)
HVAC systems create an ideal growing environment for a particular crop, in warm or cold and dry or humid conditions.
- Water Pumping Station
A water pumping station is used to ensure the soil maintains proper moisture levels and delivers proper nutrients to the plants. Some systems are installed with UV sterilizers, ensuring water purity.
- Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Injection System
These systems inject carbon dioxide gas where the pre-determined concentrations of gas promote plant growth.
- Conveyor Systems
A conveyor system, either horizontal and/or vertical, transports the plants in the grow area and allows the use of vertical space in a building.
Robotic plays a role in picking and packaging crops.
Automatic guided vehicles (AGVs) transport products from the farming area to the shipping area, further increasing efficiency
Standards and Regulations
Vertical farms are complex factories facilitating an ideal growing environment, with operations such as planting, moving, harvesting and shipping product.
Typical hazards include electrical shock and fire, mechanical hazards from robotic and AGV systems when incorporated, radiation hazards from horticultural lighting and – ultraviolet (UV) lamps used for sterilization and asphyxiation hazards from high concentration of CO2.
A non-exhaustive list of examples of standards applied to the typical subsystems in vertical farms is shown below:
- Horticultural luminaires
UL 8800, the Standard for Horticultural Lighting Equipment and Systems
This Standard includes requirements for a photobiology testing, which determines the radiation hazards of the luminaires as well as, the methodology to reduce exposure.
UL 1995, the Standard for Heating and Cooling Equipment
NFPA 90A – Standard for the Installation of Air-Conditioning and Ventilation Systems.
UL 555S, the Standard for Smoke Dampers.
- Irrigation Pump System
UL 778, the Standard for Motor Operated Water Pumps -
UL 508A, the Standard for Industrial Control Panels.
UL 8802, the Outline of Investigation for UV Germicidal Equipment and Systems
- Lift Systems, Conveyors and Machinery
NFPA 79, Electrical Standard for Industrial Machinery
UL 2011, the Outline of Investigation for Machinery
ANSI B11.19: Performance Requirements for Risk Reduction Measures: Safeguarding and Other Means of Reducing Risk
- Automatic Doors
ANSI/CAN/UL 325, the Standard for Door, Drapery, Gate, Louver, and Window Operators and Systems.
- Robotic Systems and automated guided vehicles (AGVs)
UL 1740, the Standard for Robots and Robotic Systems
RIA/ISO 10218 – Robots for Industrial Environments – Safety Requirements, Parts 1 and Part 2
UL 585, the Standard for Electric-Battery-Powered Industrial Trucks
ANSI/CAN/UL 3100, the Standard for Automated Mobile Platforms (AMPs)
- CO2 System
OSHA 1910.147 – The control of hazardous energy (lockout/tagout)
ANSI 11.19 – Performance Criteria for Safeguarding
ANSI B11.0 – Safety of Machinery
- Safety Controls
UL 1998, the Standard for Software in Programmable Components
UL991, the Standard for Safety-Rated Controls Employing Solid-State Devices,
IEC 61508 series of standards – Functional Safety of Electrical/Electronic/Programmable Electronic Safety-Related Systems – All parts
ISO 13849-1 – Safety of machinery – Safety-related parts of control systems – Part 1 and 2
- Other Systems
OSHA, building, fire, mechanical and plumbing codes and any state/county-based revisions.
Areas of interest include code authorities permits and approvals, construction drawing reviews and stampings, seismic design, fire detection/suppression, building equipment, ladders and walkways, work from heights, egress and emergency lighting, among others.
What can UL do for you and your vertical farming system?
UL’s testing, inspection and certification (TIC) services help you surmount the global technical regulatory, standards, permits and approvals requirements for your vertical farming systems in new markets.
We also offer safety and regulatory compliance assessments for conversions, modifications and upgrades to your legacy farms, that may arise due to the adoption of newer technologies and compliance with changing regulations and standards.
UL’s time-tested safety-science leadership begins with product-system development cycle through concept reviews, including identification of standard or regulatory-based none compliances that may result in safety risks. This front-end approach allows you to plan activities in a timely and cost-effective manner while satisfying your end customers who are looking for quick production starts without delays.
Our comprehensive suite of services includes design reviews to requirements of standards, inspection, verification and validation services, installation reviews, commissioning services, certification and UL Follow-Up Services.
UL’s multidiscipline, agile and flexible approach is structured to support every stage of your product-system development life cycle.
UL offers holistic, system-based safety and compliance services in vertical farming systems, whether you are an original equipment manufacturer (OEM), supplier to an OEM, asset owner or end user.
Our experts can tailor our service offering to suit the automation levels of your vertical farming system from a manual intensive unit to a highly automated system.
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