© Fraunhofer IME | Simon Vogel

»Fresh, healthy greens everywhere for everyone«


Continuous, pesticide-free and sustainable farming of plant-based food inside buildings? This is possible with “OrbiPlant®”, an innovative, automated vertical farming system developed by the Fraunhofer IME for efficient and cost-effective large-scale farming processes.

From lettuce and herbs to root vegetables – people want their daily ration of healthy, plant-based food. Especially in urban environments there is a huge demand for constant availability as well as high product requirements: fresh, natural, sustainable and resource-conserving. In order to fulfill this, a method known as “vertical indoor farming”  has been established in the food technology sector, particularly local food production.

OrbiPlant®, the indoor farming system developed by Fraunhofer IME, also follows this method. Agricultural products are not conventionally grown in the field, but instead vertically within controlled, closed systems in order to exploit the limited argricultural area in urban regions as best as possible.  The OrbiPlant® system is based on a proprietary vertical farming technology and sets new standards für an efficient and cost-effective indoor farming of plants. 

The automated pilot facility in Aachen cultivates both edible and medical plants within a 24 m² cultivation area. Compared with other indoor vertical farming methods, OrbiPlant® offers a number of process-related novelties. It employs an integrated, wave-like conveyor system, which fixates the individual plants and continuously realigns them. That way, the production of certain plant hormones is increased, leading to quicker leaf growth and higher biomass gain (orbitropic effect). Moreover, the system features an aeroponic irrigation system, where the plant roots are hovering in the air while being sprayed with water and nutrients. Modular LED technology ensures an ideal light exposure, while additional CO2 ferilization increases both quality as well as crop yield. 

The highly flexible OrbiPlant® system can continuously provide different kinds of plants, fully independet of weather, time of day and season. Significant advantages are the automation and scalability of the farming process, which allow for the optimization of propagation requirements such as light, nutrients or even the taste of the produce as well as increased productivity. Furthermore, OrbiPlant® contributes to a cost-efficient and sustainable production of plant-based food since it only applies a minimal amount of resources such as water and fertilizer. Lastly, a completely pesticide-free cultivation delivers a healthy, high quality end product, which can be produced right in the city. 

Licenses to use the vertical farming technology OrbiPlant® commercially for various application areas are available.