With a growing population and increased pressure on farmland to be more productive, we look at alternative methods of food production, such as Vertical Farming where instead of farming out, they farm up.
According to data from the World
So how do we feed this growing population off of a smaller land base?
However seeing as in Ireland for example 90% of our soils are deficient in at least one major nutrient (Phosphorus, Potassium or pH) meaning this efficiency is far from being achieved. So in the meantime producers must look elsewhere to try to obtain more produce from a minimal area.
One solution to this problem is vertical farming. this is defined as the practice of producing food and medicine in vertically stacked layers, vertically inclined surfaces and/or integrated
Vertical farming is “>fully automated, with monitoring systems to be installed in each floor to detect plants needs for water, nutrients, light and all the other requirements for growth. It is more cost-effective to stick to quicker-growing crops that yield a high market value. Herbs, baby greens for salad and edible flowers are the most common crops to be grown.
Production per metre2
The main advantage that vertical farming enjoys over more conventional methods such as traditional farming and greenhouses is that they yield more crops per square
Vertical farming technology uses less water than conventional agriculture. It uses aeroponic technology, which involves misting the roots of the plants, using astonishing 95% less water than more conventional farming methods. According to David Rosenberg, CEO of AeroFarms “Typically, in indoor growing, the roots sit in water, and one tries to oxygenate the water. Our key inventor realized that if we mist nutrition to the root structure, then the roots have a better oxygenation.”
No weather reliance
As all farmers are aware the growing of crops is seasonal dependant, meaning there are only certain windows in the year where crops can be grown and even at that yields can be compromised, especially when there is unfavourable growing conditions. However vertical farming eliminates the reliance on weather. The use of led lighting and irrigation means that the right conditions are present 24/7 365 days a year and in theory once the infrastructure is in place vertical farming can be carried out anywhere in the world, no matter what climatic conditions are present.
Distance to the market
Food miles are the distance food travels from where it is grown to where it is ultimately purchased or consumed. Food miles—and the resulting pollution—increase substantially when we consider produce and goods imported from halfway around the world. For example Imports by airplane have a substantial impact on global warming pollution. In 2005, the import of fruits, nuts, and vegetables into California by airplane released more than 70,000 tons of CO2, which is equivalent to more than 12,000 cars on the road. This is eliminated by vertical farming as produce can be grown in cities, virtually on consumers doorsteps, thus eliminating the need for food transportation costs and the associated pollutants.
While there are a number of advantages to vertical farming it also does have its disadvantages:
If fossil fuels are used to power the vertical farms; the net environmental effect may be in the negative. It is possible that the traditional horizontal farms will burn less coal and contribute less to climatic change, so renewable energy sources must be used.
There is also extra
If it becomes more widespread, the cost of obtaining premises and equipment like Motor Graders will shoot up, leading to higher expenses thus reducing the profitability of vertical farming.
Attaining more sustainable ways to feed our planet is no doubt the greatest challenge of our times. So instead of rolling our eyes to heaven we must look upwards and see what other, alternative solutions are out there. While vertical farming may not be a silver bullet solution, it is significantly more efficient than some practices being used today.