By Hiba Tabarany
Looking at the world nowadays you’ll easily notice that we are insanely expanding in construction industry, new buildings, skyscrapers, malls, compounds and so many other examples, all of it is due to the raise of population around the world as well as the changes in the definition of luxury and living standards through time, this resulted in hundreds of acres of arable land being overrun, scientist said that the Earth has lost a third of its arable lands over the last 40 years, can you imagine the damage we are responsible of?
Losing arable lands is even a bigger disaster, with this massive increase in population, being able to cover food demands is becoming a huge challenge to the human kind, that’s why the world right now is moving towards vertical farming, as a new rescue for a possible coming disaster.
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.
There are 4 areas you should know about in order to understand how vertical farming works.
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.
As any other solution, vertical farming has its own advantages and disadvantages. The major advantage here is having greater output from a small cultivation area but it’s not the only advantage here, there’s more such as having increased and year-round crop production as 1 acre of an indoor area offers equivalent production to at least 4-6 acres of outdoor capacity. Additionally, year-round crop production is possible in a controlled indoor environment, which is completely controlled by vertical farming technologies.
Furthermore it uses less water in cultivation as it allows us to produce crops with 70-95 percent less water than required for normal cultivation, it also helps in increasing the production of organic crops as there’s almost zero chemical use in the vertical farming controlled environment allowing us to grow pesticide-free and organic crops.
On the other hand, it has some disadvantages like being costly to build, difficult to pollinate and it relies too much on technology, one day of power loss would be devastating.
Despite all of the difficulties that faces a vertical farm, no one can deny it being a very creative and smart solution in many aspects, and it can be the future of agriculture.