what is vertical farming?

Growing Indoors: Vertical Farming Explained 

So what is vertical farming? It is a type of agriculture that grows crops in vertically stacked layers.  

This method of growing indoors allows for the production of food in a much smaller space compared to traditional field agriculture, enabling produce to be grown for commercial sale, for restaurants and grocery stores or to grow food for local communities. 

What Are the Benefits of Vertical Farming? 

Vertical farming offers a number of benefits over traditional agriculture, including: 

  • Decreased space requirements. One acre of vertical farming can produce the equivalent output of 10-20 acres of land in traditional production.[1] Due to this, they can be located within urban areas, providing more local food sources. 
  • Reduced water use. One study showed that vertical farms use around 70-95% less water than conventional farming methods.[2] Indoor growing methods such as hydroponics use recirculating systems, reducing water waste.  
  • Increased production. Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) enables plants to be grown indoors all year round. Crops that are seasonal due to weather constraints can be grown locally in vertical farms, securing their supply. 
  • Reduced environmental impact. Vertical farming methods can help to reduce soil erosion, water pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions when low-carbon power is used. 

How Vertical Farming Works 

There are a number of different ways to grow crops in a vertical farm. Some of the most common methods include hydroponics, aeroponics and aquaponics. 

Hydroponics 

In hydroponic systems, plants are grown without using soil. Instead, a substrate will be used, and the plant roots will be immersed in a nutrient solution. This solution is recirculated throughout the system to reduce waste.  

Aeroponics 

This is another method of growing indoors without soil, however, in aeroponics, the plants are grown without a growing medium. Instead of being submerged, roots are sprayed with a nutrient-dense mist. 

Aquaponics 

Aquaponics mimics a natural ecosystem and is a cooperation between plants and fish. Waste from the fish is converted into fertiliser for the growing plants. The nutrient-rich water is continuously recycled through the system. 

The Future of Vertical Farming 

As demand for food in urban areas continues to grow, vertical farming has an important part to play within the global food system. Vertical farms have the potential to address food security challenges by helping to reduce the environmental impact of agriculture and ensuring quality produce year-round.  


References:

[1] - https://businesswales.gov.wales/farmingconnect/news-and-events/technical-articles/vertical-farming-new-future-food-production#:~:text=Food%20production%20systems%20also%20face,20%20acres%20of%20conventional%20production.  

[2] - Khan FA, Kurklu A, Ghafoor A, Ali Q, Umair M, Shahzaib. A review on hydroponic greenhouse cultivation for sustainable agriculture. International Journal of Agriculture, Environment and Food Sciences. 2018;2(2):59-66. 

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