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The Rise of Vertical Farming

Revolutionizing Agriculture for a Sustainable Future

By EziansorahPublished 5 days ago 5 min read
Image via WIRED

Title: The Vertical Farming Boom: A Sustainable Solution for the Future of Agriculture: Vertical farming is a revolution transforming how we farm and will be the leading force in the future.

Climate change, urbanization, and the growing global population are posing challenges to traditional farming methods. To meet the demand for fresh, sustainable produce, a new agricultural revolution is taking root: the multi-level design of the new agricultural production is a vertical farm. In this new kind of farming, the farms are not on large plots of land but on rooftops, tilted walls, and even tall buildings.

By ThisisEngineering on Unsplash

What is Vertical Farming?

Vertical farming is a new and innovative method of agriculture. It means that plants are grown in vertical layers on top of each other, usually in controlled environments such as warehouses, skyscrapers, or shipping containers. Applying hydroponic or aeroponic systems allows vertical farms to generate a lot of food with the least space, water, and soil; therefore, the size of these farms is being answered now.

The Story of Vertical Farming is the story of growing crops in the layers of a building arranged vertically.

The beginnings of vertical farming appeared to be like science fiction, but it was present in the old times. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, is the first of its kind of vertical farming, with the plants growing on the tiers of terraces to make the most of the space.

In the last century of the 20th century, vertical farming became a trend in the modern world as hydroponic and aeroponic systems were invented. In 1999, Dickson Despommier, a professor at Columbia University, put vertical farming in the spotlight as a topic to solve the urban issues of food insecurity and environmental damage.

Vertical farming has many advantages. This process enables food to be produced in large quantities in a small space, cuts water usage by up to 90%, and decreases pollution caused by food transportation.

1. Maximizing Space: A prominent illustration of the most essential advantages of vertical farming is the way it enhances space utilization. The construction of vertical farms enabled the growing of crops upwards instead of outwards, and, as a result, a lot of food is produced in a tiny area. Vertical farming is more resource-saving in space usage, and hence, it is the most suitable for urban areas where land is scarce and too costly.

2. Conserving Water: Vertical farming uses much less water than conventional farming. Vertical farms can be designed so that water is supplied directly to the plant roots through hydroponic or aeroponic systems. Thus, water waste is reduced, and plants are well-hydrated. Few estimates even show that vertical farming uses up to 90% less water than normal farming techniques.

3. Year-Round Production: Vertical farms can regulate environmental factors such as temperature, humidity, and light, thus enabling the production of crops all year round, regardless of the weather outside. This ensures that the food supply is always stable and reliable, greatly reducing the chance of crop failure due to bad weather.

4. Reducing Carbon Footprint: Vertical farming, which requires no heavy machinery, chemical fertilizers, or long-distance transportation, mainly cuts down the carbon emissions usually associated with conventional agriculture. What further benefits it is that it can be used with renewable energy sources like solar or wind power, which will lower its environmental impact.

5. Freshness and Quality: Vertical farms can ensure that consumers have fresh, good-quality produce very close to their houses. Vertical farms make the food locally possible; thus, the food arrives to the consumers in the form it will be, when, and in the best nutritional state.

The case studies of the leading vertical farm example presented here are proof of the successful implementation of this idea.

By Markus Spiske on Unsplash

1. Bowery Farming: Bowery Farming is one of the largest vertical farming companies in the US, and it operates in New York City, the country's most significant vertical farming enterprise. Artificial intelligence, LED lighting, and nutrient-rich water at Bowery Farming enable the production of a wide variety of leafy greens and herbs without pesticides or herbicides. The company's indoor vertical farms can grow crops constantly, even if the weather outside is bad.

2. AeroFarms: AeroFarms is a company located in Newark, New Jersey, which is one of the world's top companies in terms of indoor vertical farms. Through the implementation of vertical farming, which is mainly accomplished by using reusable cloth for growing crops, AeroFarms can produce more than 390 times more food per square foot than normal farming methods. The company's aeroponic system, through which water and nutrients are given directly to the roots of the plant, maximizes efficiency and minimizes water waste.

3. Infarm: Infarm, which was established in Berlin, Germany, developed vertical farming units that are modular and can be installed in a supermarket, a restaurant, or a distribution center. Infarm, in turn, minimizes transportation expenses and ensures the food is fresh for the customers. The company's vertical farming units have sensors and artificial intelligence technology that monitors the plant's health and ensures its optimal growing conditions.

Challenges and Future Outlook

Although vertical farming has many pros, it also has many issues that need to be solved in order for the industry to reach its maximum potential.

1. High Initial Costs: The first step in making the necessary investment in the project is to set up the infrastructure, equipment, and technology used. Still, though the industry is one of the fastest-growing sectors and technology is developing, the cost of vertical farming will be lower.

2. Energy Consumption: Vertical farms have to use artificial lighting and climate control systems to keep the conditions for plant growth at their maximum, which is quite energy-intensive. Nonetheless, vertical farming technology is made of very energy-efficient LED lighting technology and renewable energy source technology development.

3. Scalability: Though vertical farming has been proven to be successful on a small scale, the main problem is that production has to be increased to meet the needs of the growing global population, which is one of the most difficult things. Nevertheless, the progress in research and development may result in horizontal farming being a possible and environmentally friendly way of food production.

Thus, vertical farming can be the reason for the change in agriculture as it provides a suitable means to deal with food production problems. In vertical farming, the space is utilized to its total capacity, water is saved, and carbon emissions are decreased. Hence, the vision of future farming and a sustainable food system for the upcoming generations is presented. Vertical farming, or farming crops in buildings, is gaining importance in a world that is going to the four corners and consuming fewer resources to produce more.

By Markus Winkler on Unsplash


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Comments (10)

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  • Nicolas Jarosz2 days ago

    Vertical farming addresses critical issues like space utilization, water conservation, and reducing carbon footprint. Excited to see how it shapes the future of farming!

  • Keith Doering2 days ago

    Vertical farming is the answer to the growing challenges of climate change and urbanization. It offers a sustainable solution for feeding a growing global population while minimizing resource consumption.

  • Wallace Felder3 days ago

    Fascinating read! Vertical farming's year-round production and fresh, high-quality produce close to consumers are key factors in building a more resilient food system.

  • Kenny Demarco3 days ago

    Vertical farming truly revolutionizes agriculture! The ability to grow crops in a small space while conserving water and reducing carbon emissions is a game-changer for sustainability.

  • Emmett Vinyard3 days ago

    I love how this article breaks down complex topics into easily digestible bits.

  • Thanks for taking the time to share your expertise on this subject.

  • Clifton Borel4 days ago

    I learned something new from this article. I'll definitely be sharing this with others.

  • Huey Jones4 days ago

    This was a compelling read.

  • Mark Kilpatr4 days ago

    Well-written and informative!

  • Great insights! This article really broadened my understanding.

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