Vertical farming is a relatively new concept in the world of agriculture but already where it is already being implemented it has shown amazing results and continues to do so around the world. It is constantly being viewed as a way to solve world hunger with just how much food it can provide in such a little space.
Though it would not be fair to say that it has not been criticized. Vertical farming has also gained a lot of critics over time for various reasons. We will expand upon these criticisms as well as the praise Vertical Farming receives after we understand the process behind it.
So, How DOES Vertical Farming Work?
Vertical Farming, as the name suggests, refers to the growing of crops vertically instead of the traditional horizontal expanse. The ‘plane’ of how or where the plant grows is vertical. Most people who know of vertical farming technology think of it as stacks of small areas. While this is not necessarily false, vertical farming can also be done in one layer. But that would be extremely inefficient.
More often than not, vertical farming makes use of technology, which has come to be known as vertical farming technology. What a surprise. This technology refers to a handful of things that help us to control the factors that we usually leave to mother nature to handle. Now as anyone with any experience in farming will tell you- mother nature is a cruel mistress. You as a farmer are at the mercy of the cruel forces of nature. With vertical farming technology, all of these chaotic factors are controlled by technology and humans. These factors include:
Centrally controlled temperature
A mix of both artificial and natural light
Sensors to control nutrients and fertilizers
Controlled humidity levels
These technological factors go a long way into giving peace to farmer’s minds. They no longer have to hope and pray for rain, they can make the rain for themselves. If we really think about it, we have been doing farming the same way ever since it has started. Of course we have taken the advantage of technological advancements along the way, but for the most part, it has remained the same.
The Main Objectives of a Vertical Farm
Vertical farming can be narrowed down to a few important factors that govern the basic principles of it. The most important being the physical layout of the farm itself. This layout is why vertical farming is as unique as it is and allows for farmers to save up on lands.
Vertical Farming Technology took birth when a need for utilizing space in urban centers arose for farming. From there it has evolved and a number of schools of thought have also risen to dictate the vertical farming itself.
One thing that all schools of thought agree upon is getting the maximum output in the least amount of space. This is why the ‘stacked’ farms are popular. A great example of this is the Jackson Hole Vertical Farm in Wyoming, USA. This farm takes up as much space a large house but produces over 45,000kgs of food annually. Coconut husks are used as the main growing medium in this farm through peat moss is also a good substitute.
The second most important element in the vertical farming technologies is the amount of light required or the amount of artificial light to be generated. The vertical farming technology of grow lights is used to give an artificial alternative to plants for photosynthesis. This works in tandem with the rotating platforms which evenly distribute the light all over the plants and crops.
Then you focus on what medium you want to adopt for your farming process. Do you want to go aeroponic, hydroponic or even aquaponic? This choice is really dependant on where you live and how you want to manage it. Aeroponic farming draws in the most eyes since, well there is no soil! Usually, farmers will use peat moss or coconut husks as a medium.
Lastly, you want to use as little resources as you can when running the farm. A water tank on top that collects rainwater, a glass exterior to let in light, nutrients gained from fish waste etc. This environment is essentially a laboratory where every factor is under strict control.
What are the Drawbacks?
Now that you know how the ins and out of vertical farming works, you should also know the drawbacks.
It is expensive. If for some reason you cannot use the natural resources in your locale, then you might end up spending up a pretty penny getting them. Generally, with farming, the main focus is how everything can be made profitable. So a lot of the times the profitability of vertical farms is brought into question since they constantly consume water, electricity and other resources.
There are just too much of a few resources required. Water for example. If you are going for a hydroponic approach, then you are going to need a lot of water to make it work. Whereas om conventional means, you only ever need water a couple of times in the process. If you are using artificial lights well you are going to need a lot of energy.
But the pros really outweigh the cons and other green technologies can really step in to eliminate the problems vertical farm technologies face. Solar panels can be used for electricity generation, dirty or used water from fish farms and such can be used to provide water here. The entire process can be made a self-efficient farm if the correct decisions can be made.
Vertical farms can make a lot of food in very little space and they are seen as the future in countries where food is a scarce resource. Vertical farming technologies can help provide a lot of food in very little time. Community vertical farms have also started to pop up to help reduce costs and distribute them evenly.
What are your thoughts on vertical farming? Feel free to leave your thoughts and comments in the section below.