96689 - Greenhouse and Vertical Farming Systems

Course Unit Page


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

Zero hunger Sustainable cities Responsible consumption and production Climate Action

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course the student knows the interactions between the climate outside of a greenhouse and the microclimate inside, the changes in major climatic parameters that affect crop growth and how to manage the microclimate in the greenhouse. The student also knows the main protection materials and technologies. The student is able to understand the main issues related to the cultivation in a controlled environment, also depending on the climate of the area in which is going to operate, and potential climate changing conditions and is able to know how to choose the protective materials. The student is able to define the distribution features, sizing and layout of the main functional units which make up the building system. The student is able to return drawings of design cases developed in the framework of guided exercises.

Course contents

1) Teaching programme (36 hours)

The course will mainly address the engineering aspects of greenhouses and vertical farms and their interaction with growth and development of crops.

  • General introduction:
    • General introduction to protected cultivation;
    • Objectives and types of protected cultivation;
    • Greenhouse history and current status;
    • Mediterranean greenhouses;
  • Greenhouse technologies for urban horticulture:
  • Rooftop greenhouses;
  • Vertical farming systems;
  • Management of the greenhouse climate and available technological solutions:
    • External climate;
    • The greenhouse climate;
    • The plastic greenhouse;
    • CO2 enrichment;
    • Artificial lighting in greenhouse cultivation;
    • Climate management;
  • Greenhouse design and construction
  • Environmental sustainability
    • LCA of greenhouse production;
    • Greenhouse energetic efficiency;

2) Technical visits (4 hr)
Visit vertical farm of company Agricola Moderna (https://agricolamoderna.com/).

3) Practical work (20 hr)
The course includes the following practical activities:

- Critical reading of scientific literature on a related subject and group work preparation of a literature review on main drawbacks and potential for innovation.

- Groupwork for the design of an innovative greenhouse, a plant factory, a rooftop greenhouse or a vertical farm, in the framework of the International Student Challenge UrbanFarm2021.


Teaching material

Syllabus and slides available on IOL


Bert Van't Ooster, Cecilia Stanghellini, and Ep Heuvelink. 2019. Greenhouse Horticulture: Technology for Optimal Crop Production. Wageningen Academic Publishers.

DISCOUNT CODE:UNIBO-2020. With this code the e-book can be purchased for €55,00 instead of the regular price of €69,00 (ex. VAT). The link to the webshop is: https://econtent.wageningenacademic.com/product/greenhouse-horticulture

Other readings

Kozai, T., Niu, G., & Takagaki, M. 2019. Plant factory. An Indoor Vertical Farming System for Efficient Quality Food Production. Academic Press. Elsevier.

Castilla, N. 2013. Greenhouse technology and Management. CABI

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.

Orsini, F., Dubbeling, M., de Zeeuw, H., Gianquinto, G., Eds. 2017. Rooftop Urban Agriculture. Springer, The Netherlands. ISBN 978-3-319-57720-3.

Teaching methods

The course consists of theoretical lectures, practical exercises and groupwork in classroom and in greenhouse, technical visits.

Students are also encouraged to take part in International Student Competitions, including:

- UrbanFarm2021 [https://site.unibo.it/urban-farm/en] (University of Bologna)

- Ultimate Urban Greenhouse Challenge [https://urbangreenhousechallenge.nl/] (Wageningen University)

Considering activities and adopted teaching methods, taking part to this course requires the attendance to safety modules 1 and 2 (online, at https://www.unibo.it/it/servizi-e-opportunita/salute-e-assistenza/salute-e-sicurezza/sicurezza-e-salute-nei-luoghi-di-studio-e-tirocinio) and 3 (in presence, further information in the website of the course degree).

Assessment methods

Multiple choice test. Additional points are also available for student taking part in groupwork or assignments whenever they achieve at least 18/30. To pass the exam, students need to complete the written part and discuss and substantiate the answers within an oral session.

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 60 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 and their normalization on a 30/30 basis. 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 60 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

Powerpoint presentations, exercises on IOL, theoretical and practical workshops and groupwork activities.

Links to further information


Office hours

See the website of Francesco Orsini