With the increasing losses in agriculture globally such as land degradation due to erosion (by wind or water), urbanisation, loss of crop produce due to bad weather or their perishable nature and loss of livestock because of disease and epidemics, it has become increasingly important to explore other forms of farming such as vertical farming.
definition of vertical farming
Vertical farming is a controlled environment type of agriculture where plants are grown stacked in vertical layers.
photo by Satoshi KINOKUNI from wikipedia with Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic licence
why vertical farming
Agricultural innovations such as vertical farming are crucial for many reasons, including:
- ensuring food security by increasing food production especially in arid regions.
- addressing the efficient use of water ,according to the USDA ERS – Irrigation & Water Use, traditonal agriculture is responsible for 80-90% of water consumption in the United States. With vertical farming up to 95% less water is used because less water is lost through evaporation (vertical farms are closed systems which means that water that may evaporate has nowhere to go and so can be recycled and reused).
- all year round supply of food, crops don’t need to be grown according to seasons because vertical farming doesn’t depend on weather.
- no need for fungicides and pesticides: pests cannot enter the controlled environment and cause crop damage and fungal diseases, which means that the crops grown are organic.
- growing vertically saves up space resulting in a higher crop yield per square foot of land used.
- Weather doesn’t affect crops. Vertical farmers don’t need to worry about adverse weather affecting their crops because their farms are fully enclosed and climate controlled.
vertical farming, an urban innovation
As vertical farming is most concerntrated in urban areas, one may consider it an urban innovation. Many urban retailers are adapting this ground-breaking innovation, and this means that consumers can now buy directly from urban farms, no longer having to travel to the outskirts of town for fresh organic produce.
Many urban dwellers are also adopting the vertical farming method at their private residences (both for private and commercial consumption). Cities are becoming self sufficient in food production.
Because vertical farms can be located anywhere and in smaller spaces, more needs to be done to educate people about this impressive agricultural innovation. Funding needs to be made available for farmers since the funds needed to build a vertical farm can be exorbitant. The world population will continue to rise and combined with the effects of global warming, it’s clear that vertical farming is the future.
Main photo by Zoe Schaeffer via Unsplash