Plants Yield More in Cities

Approximately 1.1 billion people worldwide reside in slums and informal settlements within urban areas, which often perpetuate poverty and restrict opportunities for growth. Cities and their surroundings act as dynamic hubs for innovation, culture, and economic prospects, attracting both talent and investments.

Do plants give much yield in the cities than in the villages? Yes, some plants give more yield when grown in cities than in rural areas. This comes up in a study by a group of researchers from the UK.

In the study, they claimed that crops including cucumbers, potatoes and lettuce give yields up to four times as high when they are grown in urban rather than rural areas.

The researchers indulged in the study as more and more people are moving to city life. “Despite its growing popularity, there’s still quite a lot we don’t know about urban agriculture, like whether the yields are similar to conventional agriculture, or even what crops are commonly grown,” said lead author and environmental scientist Florian Payen, fromLancaster University in the UK.


The researchers looked at analysis of about 200 previous studies – covering 53 different countries and more than 2,000 data points. When most of the studies focused on green spaces, such as private and community gardens, parks and field growing operations, the present study by Payen and team looked at grey areas like roads and rooftops as well as green spaces such as parks and allotments. They studied which crops grow well in cities, what growing methods are most effective, and what spaces can be utilized for growing.


With respect to which urban spaces work best for crop growing, they did not have a clear winner. However, they found that some types of crops are particularly well suited to certain ways of growing. They found watery vegetables (such as tomatoes) and leafy greens have high yields in hydroponic environments, where water is used instead of soil.

Foods like lettuces, kale and broccoli are more naturally suited to being grown vertically, the researchers found. The study also showed that urban farming is going to work better for certain types of produce than others.

“Surprisingly, there were few differences between overall yields in indoor spaces and outdoor green spaces, but there were clear differences in the suitability of crop types to different gray spaces. You can’t exactly stack up apple trees in a five or ten-layer high growth chamber, though we did find one study that managed to grow wheat stacked up like that.” said Payen.


The researchers feel that developing urban agriculture could be beneficial in a whole host of different ways – from being better equipped to survive the next pandemic to reducing the environmental cost of food production.

“This is the first step,” says Payen. Once scientists have accurate estimates for urban crop yields, they can map out a city’s potential growing areas and calculate how much food could be produced there. “That’s the strength of this dataset, for planners and policymakers to be able to see if it’s worth it to invest in rooftop gardens or greenhouses, for example, or if hydroponic systems would be better.”  Future studies could also use the data to estimate cities’ potential to meet future food demand and the likelihood that cities could be self-sufficient in terms of food productions.

“As we engaged and talked with different stakeholders, such as government agencies and local councils, we realized that the absence of robust, comprehensive data on urban agricultural yields was preventing them from going ahead and supporting the development and implementation of urban food growing,” Payen says.  “We need to understand realistically how much this form of growing could contribute to food security to help make the business case for it.”

The research has been published in Earth’s Future.

Now a days, people are engaged more and more in growing planta in the urban regions.


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