Vertical farming

The practice of using limited space and resources for farming is called implementing a vertical farming system. This system places the plants in an environment suitable for their farming and optimizes growth. This is a way to harvest crops on vertically placed racks or towers rather than traditional and old-fashioned horizontal farming.

Farmers using this method can grow exponentially more food on the same land area thanks to better use of space. Vertical farming can be more difficult to implement because it requires more control for temperature, humidity, and light to succeed. It takes more determination, discipline, and hard work for the farmers!

Vertical farming

The way vertical farming works is that crops are grown in stacked towers or shelving structures with scalable technology. Plants are placed in cups or containers to save space. There are many types of vertical farming systems that farmers can integrate to provide the best yields.

Need of Vertical Farming

Premium farmland can be scarce and expensive. As the world’s population grows, the demand for more food and more land to grow food continues to increase. But some entrepreneurs and farmers are starting to look, not outside, for space to grow more food.

Solutions to our need for more space can be found in abandoned warehouses in our cities, new buildings built on environmentally degraded land, and even in shipping containers. This solution, called vertical farming, involves growing crops in a controlled indoor environment, with the right light, nutrients, and temperature. In vertical farming, crops grown are stacked in layers that can reach several floors.

Although small residential vertical gardening (including window farming) has been around for decades, commercial-scale vertical farming can change the face of agriculture in a new way in India. However, interest in this new agricultural technology is growing rapidly and entrepreneurs from several Indian cities are seriously researching this innovative farming system. Vertical farming

Vertical farming

Pros and Cons of Vertical Farming:

Pros:

There are many advantages of vertical farming. In fact, there are books also on the same topic. Some of those advantages are:

  • Sustainable crop production: Vertical farming technology can ensure year-round crop production in non-tropical areas. And production is much more efficient than land farming. It is a proven fact that one indoor hectare of vertical farming can yield up to the equivalent of more than 30 hectares of farmland when one takes into account the number of crops produced per season.
  • Elimination of herbicides and pesticides: Controlled growth conditions in vertical farms allow for the reduction or complete cessation of the use of chemical pesticides. Some of the vertical farming operations use ladybugs and other such biological controls when necessary to deal with the possible infestations.
  • Protection from weather changes in crop production: Because crops in vertical farms are grown in a controlled environment, they are safe from extreme weather events such as droughts, hail, and floods.
  • Water conservation and recycling: Hydroponic farming techniques used in vertical farming use about 70% less water than traditional farming (and aeroponic techniques, which involve cropping roots, use less water).
  • Water conservation and recycling: Hydroponic farming techniques used in vertical farming use about 70% less water than traditional farming (and aeroponic techniques, which involve cropping roots, use less water).
  • People Friendly: Conventional farming is one of the most dangerous occupations in the United States. Some of the common occupational hazards to avoid in vertical farming are accidents using large and dangerous farm equipment and exposure to toxic chemicals.

Cons:

Even after the numerous benefits of vertical farming, some agricultural experts are skeptical that the costs and benefits will be eliminated. Most people think that expensive urban real estate in many cities might rule out vertical farming (like just by using abandoned warehouses or environmentally contaminated sites can help the economy). And the high consumption of electricity to run lighting and heating/cooling in vertical farms has an impact on the economy. Given below are some disadvantages of vertical farming:

  • Land and construction costs: Urban locations for vertical farming can be very expensive. Some vertical farms already exist are based in abandoned warehouses, abandoned areas, or Superfund sites, which are cheaper to build.
  • Energy consumption: Although transportation costs can be significantly lower than in conventional farms, energy consumption for artificial lighting and climate control in vertical farms can significantly increase operating costs.
  • USDA Organic Certification Controversy: It’s unclear if or when there will be agreement that crops grown on vertical farms can be certified organic. Many agricultural experts believe that certified organic crops involve the entire soil ecosystem and natural systems, not just a lack of pesticides and herbicides.
  • A limited number of plant species: The current model for crops grown on vertical farms focuses on high-value, fast-growing, small-footed, fast-rotating crops, such as lettuce, basil, and other salads. Vegetables that are slow-growing, even the grains also, are not profitable in commercial vertical farming systems.
  • Pollination requirement: Insects are generally excluded from the growing environment so the crops that require insect pollination are not profitable in vertical farming because. Plants that require pollination may need to be pollinated by hand, requiring time and staff work.

Types of Vertical Farming

Hydroponics

This vertical farming technique suggests growing crops without the need for soil. Hydroponic systems immerse plant roots in a liquid solution with different nutrients. Instead of using soil, materials such as gravel and sand are used instead to support plant roots. This allows the plant to take in and concentrate macronutrients, or nutrients that are needed in large quantities.

The benefits of hydroponic farming include increasing crop production in an area and reducing the amount of water used for crops in general.

Aeroponics Farming: All about it

Aquaponics

Aquaponics combines aquaculture and hydroponics. Aquaculture refers to the use of fish farming and hydroponics is planting without soil. Aquaponics takes hydroponics to the next level by integrating the production of land plants and using aquatic organisms to aid their growth.

In a closed-loop system (or a sustainable system without external organisms) the plant environment will mimic their natural habitat. The combination of natural aquatic organisms without the use of soil helps plants to focus on their intake of natural ingredients and nutrients.

The main goal of aquaponics is to produce slower-growing plants while incorporating more aquatic organisms. Since it still uses nutrition and vertical farming, but at a reduced rate, it is not used as often as other vertical farming methods.

Aeroponics

This type of system is best used by NASA to find efficient ways to produce plants under unusual circumstances. NASA primarily looked to this technique to see how easy it would be to grow plants in space in the 1990s. Aeroponics is unique in that it does not use soil or aquatic organisms to grow.

The absence of substrate helps save energy for cultivation techniques and crops. Because gravity automatically drains excess fluid, this technique is specifically for use in outer space.

Since aeroponics is not a common method, it is not widely used. However, it started to gain more traction as vertical farming and its efficiency increased.