Indoor vertical farming: Future of farming

Rise in population has been a global concern and even more concern for low cost countries. Population has already reached the borderline of 8 billion (7.8 billion) as per September 2020.

Next 3 decades is going to be more challenging for the world as there requires more amount of food and agricultural product for sustaining uprising global population.

In 2050 just 30 years later world’s population is estimated to reach 9.8 billion with 68% population living in urban city centers and to feed this massive population the agricultural output must be increased by more than 70%. Hence, it requires more production in less area of arable land.

Population is growing on exponential rate but food production is still following linear trend of growth.

exponential population growth

Source: https://www2.nau.edu/lrm22/lessons/population_growth/population_growth.html

Crop Yields - Our World in Data

But, you will be relieved to know that agricultural industries and global movement is putting up a comprehensive research, and coming up with a new innovative idea i.e. of Indoor vertical farming.

 

Introduction

Indoor vertical farming is the latest farming technique that allows you to grow crops vertically upright either stacked in different layers or directly on a wall instead of the traditional, horizontal way across acres of land.

This methods could be applied in a shipping container or climate-controlled unit in almost any indoor place. They are mostly practiced with the aims for optimizing plant growth, and soilless farming techniques such as hydroponics, aquaponics, and aeroponics.

 

Advantages of Indoor Vertical Farming

1. Increased crop output within the same area of land.
2. Ensure sustainable and greater production from a smaller unit area of land.
3. Additionally, crops are resistant to weather disruptions because of their indoor placement i.e. less prone to get damaged in extreme or unexpected weather occurrences.
4. Because of its limited land usage for agriculture, this method is less disruptive to the native plants and animals
5. Further conservation of the local flora and fauna due to lower exposure to chemicals and disease.
6. More organic crops could be promoted.
7. Requirement of significantly less water.

 

Disadvantages of Indoor Vertical Farming

1. Might be costly to build and economic feasibility of this method hasn’t been fully explored yet.
2. Difficulty in pollination and might be very costly too.
3. High labor costs.
4. Technological requirement such as skilled manpower and advance capabilities.
5. Too much dependency on technology could be devastating such as power cut for 1 days could result in loss of whole crops.

 

Things Required for Indoor Vertical Farming

Indoor vertical farming technology is the new era of farming which faces huge economic challenges with large start-up costs compared to traditional farms. So, if you want to build a very convenient  indoor vertical farm then you must replace some conventional elements with artificial substitutes.

These substitutes are clearly explained on a step-by-step basis here below:

LEDs for sunlight

When we talk about Indoor vertical farming we don’t expect a sunlight instead it’s replaced with artificial lighting like LEDs and other different types of lighting that we can find in market suitable for different types of vegetables and foods.

Racking system for acres of land

Indoor vertical farming also utilize and install the racking system to grow vegetables and crops vertically and some of the biggest productions have their production stacked 14 to 16 floors high. So the more stacked it is, the more convenient and effective the production is.

Soil substitutes 

As most of these farms are hydroponic or aeroponic systems, they use a substitute element like polyurethane sponges, biodegradable peat moss and even inorganic materials like perlite and clay pellets too instead of using soil.

Formulated nutritive solutions for natural nutrient

Another unique aspects about these indoor vertical farming is that they use a precise nutrient formula which is then circulated and also recycled throughout the facility, and this is pumped directly throughout the root zone to promote plant growth. Just like the natural nutrients, the nutrient solution is a homogeneous mixture of water, ions (cations and anions), and oxygen that promote the growth and development of the vegetable species.

 

Types of vertical farming

Building-based vertical farms

Abandoned buildings are often reused for vertical farming such as “The Plant,” at Chicago which was transformed from an old meatpacking plant. However, new builds are also constructed for the vertical farming systems apart from using old abandoned buildings.

Shipping-container vertical farms

Recycled shipping containers are the most popular option for housing vertical farming systems worldwide. The shipping containers are very convenient and serve as standardized, modular chambers for growing a variety of plants. They are equipped with vertically stacked hydroponics smart climate controls and monitoring sensors.

Moreover by the process of stacking the shipping containers, farms can save space even further and can achieve higher yield/output per square foot.

Deep farms

Vertical farms built from refurbished underground tunnels or abandoned places are called “Deep farms”. As temperature and humidity of  underground are generally temperate and constant; this results the less requirement for heating.  

Deep farms can channel groundwater to reduce the cost of water supply. Even with such low cost, deep farm can yield crops 6-7 times more than the conventional farming done in the same area of the land.

 

References

1. https://ourworldindata.org/crop-yields
2.https://www.foodnavigator.com/Article/2019/05/15/Are-vertical-farms-even-remotely-efficient-Putting-a-figure-on-plant-factories
3. https://www.thebalancesmb.com/what-you-should-know-about-vertical-farming-4144786

 

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

 

A) What is vertical farming?

  • Growing produce in vertically stacked layers i.e. in environment controlled scenario.

 

B) Problems and barriers faced by vertical farming?

  • Uncertainty on return on investment (ROI).
  • Require technological expertise and expensive.
  • Expensive infrastructure.

 

C) Why growing on soil better than hydroponics?

  • Nature full of divine power and growing in soil more stable than hydroponics.

 

D) Is vertical farming sustainable?

  • Less water use.
  • No runoff, erosion and dust from tillage.
  • No nitrogen pumped into atmosphere.
  • Less energy use and stress to plant from transportation.
  • Controlled environment and controlled situation.

 

E) How do future crops grows without sunlight?

  • By the use of LEDs which deliver specific light spectrums and intensities that are most easily and efficiently absorbed by our plants and this could be controlled as well as regulated.

 

 

Was the article helpful? Don’t forget to share your views and ideas on the comment section as your support means a lot to us. So many interesting and helpful articles will be published very soon.

Till then happy reading, happy planting!

 

Suman marahatha

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