96675 - Smart Horticulture

Academic Year 2021/2022

  • Teaching Mode: Traditional lectures
  • Campus: Bologna
  • Corso: Second cycle degree programme (LM) in International Horticultural Science (cod. 8883)

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course, the student will know the main solutions for smart and precision vegetable crop production. The student will have a good preparation on the aspects dealing with greenhouse, soil and plant sensors for crop monitoring and available decision support systems for dynamic crop management. The student will also be familiar with innovative vegetable cultivation technologies, including vertical farming, climate controlled agriculture, hydroponics and A.I. systems for vegetable crop production.

Course contents

The aim of this course is to respond to the global challenge of sustainable food production with a specific focus on how precision farming may allow for sustainable use of resources in vegetable crop production. The course brings together available knowledge and applications in the field of vegetable crop physiology, crop monitoring, decision support systems in vegetable crop production and innovative and resource efficient technologies for vegetable crop cultivation. The course is structured into 4 teaching units (TU), namely:

TU1: Models based on vegetable crop physiology (Face-To-Face, 6 hours)

Principles of vegetable crop physiology. Models for forecasting plant growth in response to cultivation environment. Plant requirements. K, P, Mg, S, Ca, and microelement nutrition.

TU2: Technologies and tools for vegetable crop monitoring and Decision Support Systems (DSS) (Face-To-Face, 8 hours)

Nutrient management in vegetable crops. Traditional nutrient management in the Mediterranean. N balance sheet method. Dynamic N management guided by optical sensors. Water management in vegetable crop production. Sensors and Decision support systems for dynamic water and nutrient management in horticulture. The speaking plant approach.

TU3: Innovative cultivation systems for vegetable crop production (Face-To-Face, 6 hours)

Artificial lighting and LED technology for vegetable crops. Hydroponics for greenhouse vegetable production, including closed and open loop systems. Smart climate management in greenhouse and vertical farms. Innovative technologies for vegetable crop mechanization. Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) for vegetable crop production.

TU4: Design of smart vegetable farming systems (Face-To-Face + at distance, 10 hours)

Students are grouped in teams and requested to address specific challenges toward the identification of smart production systems. Targeted topics include sensors, dynamic water and fertilization management, hydroponics, climate controlled agriculture.


Teaching material

Syllabus and slides available on virtuale.unibo.it


Quaryoti M., Baudoin W., Nono Womdin R., Leonardi C., Hanafi A., De Pascale S. 2013. Guidelines on GAP for greenhouse horticulture in the Mediterranean Region. FAO-UN, Rome, Italy. FAO paper, AGP series, 217.

Suggested readings:

Kozai, T., Niu, G., Takagaki, M. (2015). Plant Factory: an indoor vertical farming system for efficient quality food production Cambridge Academic Press.

Kozai, T. (2016). LED lighting for urban agriculture. Springer, Singapore.

Teaching methods

E-learning, powerpoint presentations, online tests, forum, assignments, practical work with diagnostic sensors and tools in greenhouse and vertical farming environments.

It will be delivered as blended course including face-to-face activities and integrative eLearning sources delivered at distance through Moodle.

Assessment methods

The exam will take place in both Teams and Zoom platform. Students are requested to perform the exam on Zoom using a PC and have another device (e.g. tablet/mobile phone) connected to Teams. A valid ID and the student badge will be needed in order to confirm identity. The videos of the exam will be recorded and may be used againt frauds or irregolarities.

The test consists of 45 closed-ended questions chosen in the areas listed in the course program available in IOL. For each correct answer a score equal to 1 is assigned, for each wrong answer a score equal to -0.5 is attributed, while in the absence of an answer there is no penalty. The overall score is obtained by the algebraic sum of the individual scores. To pass the exam (and eventually access additional points collected throughout the course), students need to score at least 18 in the quiz and undertake a short oral discussion on the answers provided during the quiz. Cum Laude is awarded when an overall score equal to or greater than 32 points has been obtained.

The maximum duration for the written test is 45 minutes.

NB: The navigation method is sequential and the student must proceed neatly: it is not possible to go back or jump forward.

ATTENTION: when providing the answer (right or wrong) or when not answering and moving to the next question, it is not possible to go back and change the selection.

Teaching tools

International Student Challenge UrbanFarm

ISHS talks on Vertical Farming

H2020 Project FoodE (Food Systems in European Cities)

Office hours

See the website of Francesco Orsini


Zero hunger Sustainable cities Climate Action

This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.