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 maximizing crops output in a limited space.
How Vertical Farming Works
There are four critical areas in understanding how vertical farming works: 1. Physical layout, 2. Lighting, 3. Growing medium, and 4. Sustainability features.
Firstly, the primary goal of vertical farming is producing more foods per square meter. To accomplish this goal, crops are cultivated in stacked layers in a tower life structure. Secondly, a perfect combination of natural and artificial lights is used to maintain the perfect light level in the room. Technologies such as rotating beds are used to improve lighting efficiency.
Thirdly, instead of soil, aeroponic, aquaponic or hydroponic growing mediums are used. Peat moss or coconut husks and similar non-soil mediums are very common in vertical farming. Finally, the vertical farming method uses various sustainability features to offset the energy cost of farming. In fact, vertical farming uses 95 percent less water.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Vertical Farming
Vertical farming has a lot of promise and sounds like the farm of the future. However, there are a few stumbling blocks to consider before rushing full-speed ahead into vertical farming.
- It offers a plan to handle future food demands
- It allows crops to grow year-round
- It uses significantly less water
- Weather doesn’t affect the crops
- More organic crops can be grown
- There is less exposure to chemicals and disease
- It could be very costly to build and economic feasibility studies haven’t yet been completed
- Pollination would be very difficult and costly
- It would involve higher labor costs
- It relies too much on technology and one day of power loss would be devastating