The challenge

Protected cropping seems a logical way to increase agricultural system resilience to provide for future demands for nutritious food; however, the greenhouse sector is one of Europe’s biggest energy consumers. How will this industry develop in the years to come?


What we did

Forum for the Future was approached by Certis Europe - a leading supplier of crop protection solutions to the specialty and high value crop market sector - to help it develop its understanding of the future of this sector, to inform its strategic development, and to explore its role in a sustainable future.

Through extensive expert interviews, research and workshops over a nine-month period, we developed:

  • A set of trends that will shape the future of protected cropping;
  • Four different, but plausible, scenarios in which to explore how protected cropping might change by 2030, with a focus on Europe.

The scenarios were developed around what Forum believes are the most uncertain trends in the future: whether there will be more free trade or protectionism, and the availability of capital to invest in the sector. The four scenarios – Silicon Farming, Plastic Planet, Factory Farming and Walled Garden - portray very different worlds and consider a very broad range of issues, from consumer attitudes to food and how it is consumed, through to the geography and the development of protected cropping production systems.

The research also highlighted the exciting innovations happening in the field today. from commercial vertical farming, through to saltwater greenhouses in the desert and aquaponics (combining fish and food production).

The scenarios were used to identify futures risks and opportunities, and areas for future innovation.



The project helped identify two areas of future innovation for Certis Europe in the protected cropping sector:

  1. The development of a new generation of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) to meet future cropping needs;
  2. The development of new technologies to minimize post-harvest food losses.

Certis will be sharing and testing the scenarios we have created to identify new products and services, as well as new partnerships to help create a more sustainable food system.


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