Vertical Farming? What is it and what are the benefits?
By 2050, the world’s population is expected to grow by another 2 billion people, and feeding it will be a huge challenge. Due to industrial development and urbanisation, we are losing arable lands every day. Scientists say that the Earth has lost a third of its arable lands over the last 40 years.
We don’t know how much more we are going to lose in the next 40 years. Increasing food demand due to a growing population along with ever decreasing arable lands poses one of the greatest challenges facing us. Many believe that vertical farming can be the answer to this challenge. Is vertical farming the future of agriculture?
What Is Vertical Farming?
Vertical farming is the practice of producing food on vertically inclined surfaces. Instead of farming vegetables and other foods on a single level, such as in a field or a greenhouse, this method produces foods in vertically stacked layers commonly integrated into other structures like a skyscraper, shipping container or repurposed warehouse.
Using Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) technology, this modern idea uses indoor farming techniques. The artificial control of temperature, light, humidity, and gases makes producing foods and medicine indoor possible. In many ways, vertical farming is similar to greenhouses where metal reflectors and artificial lighting augment natural sunlight. The primary goal of vertical farming is maximising crops output in a limited space.
What are the advantages of Vertical Farming?
Having greater output from a small cultivation area is not the only advantage of vertical farming. Following are some of the major benefits of vertical farming:
Preparation for Future: By 2050, around 80 percent of the world population is expected to live in urban areas, and the growing population will lead to an increased demand for food. The efficient use of vertical farming may perhaps play a significant role in preparing for such a challenge. Increased And Year-Round Crop Production: Vertical farming allows us to produce more crops from the same square footage of growing area. In fact, 1 acre of an indoor area offers equivalent production to at least 4-6 acres of outdoor capacity. According to an independent estimate, a 30-story building with a basal area of 5 acres can potentially produce an equivalent of 2,400 acres of conventional horizontal farming. Additionally, year-round crop production is possible in a controlled indoor environment which is completely controlled by vertical farming technologies. Less Use Of Water In Cultivation: Vertical farming allows us to produce crops with 70-95 percent less water than required for normal cultivation. Not Affected By Unfavourable Weather Conditions: Crops in a field can be adversely affected by natural calamities such as torrential rains, cyclones, flooding or severe droughts—events which are becoming increasingly common as a result of global warming. Indoor vertical farms are less likely to feel the brunt of the unfavourable weather, providing greater certainty of harvest output throughout the year.
Increased Production of Organic Crops: As crops are produced in a well-controlled indoor environment without the use of chemical pesticides, vertical farming allows us to grow pesticide-free and organic crops. Human and Environmentally Friendly: Indoor vertical farming can significantly lessen the occupational hazards associated with traditional farming. Farmers are not exposed to hazards related to heavy farming equipment diseases like malaria, poisonous chemicals and so on. As it does not disturb animals and trees inland areas, it is good for biodiversity as well.
More advantages of Vertical Farming:
Year-round crop production
Eliminates agricultural runoff
Significantly reduces use of fossil fuels (farm machines and transport of crops)
Makes use of abandoned or unused properties
No weather related crop failures
Offers the possibility of sustainability for urban centres
Adds energy back to the grid via methane generation
Creates new urban employment opportunities
Reduces the risk of infection from agents transmitted at the agricultural interface
Returns farmland to nature, helping to restore ecosystem functions and services
Controls vermin by using restaurant waste for methane generation