What is Vertical Agriculture?
Agriculture is still mostly carried out in a "horizontal" fashion, that is, in vast fields that are obviously outside, despite the fact that it has tremendously evolved since its inception, especially in recent decades thanks to machinery and our current technologies. Space, soil quality, unfavourable weather, excessive sunlight, and the large number of pests that demand the use of pesticides are just a few of the drawbacks of this method of operation. These are sharply attacked by certain consumers, particularly by legislators who wish to outlaw pesticides and move to agriculture that is only 100 percent organic or even go back to the days before industrialization.
However, many of the current issues in our agriculture can be resolved without turning completely organic and replicating the disastrous experiment in Sri Lanka which attempted such an experiment. Vertical farming might be that answer. What is it then?
The crops are stacked on top of one another in this innovative farming method, which is becoming more and more popular. It is carried out entirely indoors, such as in a warehouse. The use of the sun as a source of lighting is no longer appropriate for this new style of agriculture, and it has been replaced by appropriate UV lighting. This innovative method of cultivating fruits and vegetables, as well as plants of all kinds, offers many benefits and could revolutionize our supply of local fruits and vegetables.
Naturally, one of the key benefits of vertical farming is the ability to grow fruits and vegetables all year long, regardless of the climate or weather. There is no chance of a drought, a lot of rain, hail, a ground freeze, or any other extreme weather occurrence. As a result, we not only get consistent production throughout the year, but it also helps farmers avoid potential financial losses brought on by the whims of weather. In addition to being sheltered from the elements, each crop's growing conditions may be optimised by adjusting the ideal lighting and nutrients for each shoot, something that is obviously not achievable outside. This increases agricultural output and enables consistent production throughout the year.
The ability to grow more food in less space than traditional farming is, of course, another immediately apparent advantage of this new method of doing things. It is therefore conceivable to envision a production that can increase up to 100 times the capacity of a regular farm because the crops are layered on top of one another. Due to the significant increase in capacity and the significantly reduced land requirements, it is possible to construct multiple farms of this type closer to or even inside of major urban centres.
Additionally, since these farms may be developed nearer to urban areas, there will be a large reduction in the amount of transportation required, which directly reduces the amount of greenhouse gases released during the delivery of commodities.
This novel method of agriculture has several environmental advantages in addition to the dramatic reduction in commodities transportation. One of them is a significant decrease in water usage. We are aware that conventional farms require a lot of water, and as water cannot be recycled, it is lost after usage. This is a significant issue during droughts, which can result in numerous crop damages and financial losses for farmers.
Since it is possible to regulate the best water supply for each crop as well as recycle and reuse it by altering the fertiliser concentrations required for each crop, this issue does not arise in vertical farms. Comparing this style of agriculture to traditional agriculture, water savings might range from 90 to 95%.
The usage of pesticides being minimised or even completely eliminated is a further benefit. Since the crops are grown indoors in a controlled environment, there is no need for pesticides to get rid of pests that would typically attack and destroy crops in addition to human error or outside contamination. Additionally, it will be very difficult for additional diseases with a fungal origin to arise owing to moulds if all the factors, especially humidity, are effectively controlled, negating the need for pesticides.