Crop production is increasingly threatened day by day because of the climatic change or the scarcity of water or the biggest threat of all shortage of land. It has been estimated that within 2050 world population will increase from 7 billion to 9.3 billion.
We have a limited amount of resources 90% of the crop production depends on higher yield while the other remaining share from productive land. To feed the world, simultaneously protecting the environment, man needs to develop an improvised form of agriculture. A new form of cultivation is required: indoor vertical farming using artificial lighting is an efficient way of producing crops. So what is vertical farming? Is it going to be the future of agriculture?
What is vertical farming/gardening?
To increase land efficiency plants are not planted in a single layer, but they are stacked up. It is a form of cultivation in which a vertical stack has been arranged in which plant offspring are planted; plant production is promoted through artificial light where necessary pieces of equipment like the air conditioner, CO2, and other nutritional supply are available. Why the saplings do are arrange in a vertical stack? Vertical farming increases the efficiency of land usage. It is a modern-day idea where we can artificially control all the essential elements like temperature, gas, humidity, etc. The main purpose is to efficiently use the land to maximize the output of crop production.
The Evolutionary History of Vertical farming
- First commercial vertical farming was set up in 1983 which come to know as Miura Nouen in Shizuoka Prefecture.
- By the mid–1990s sodium lamp are being used as the light source in place of solar energy.
- Within the late 1990s, a sodium lamp was replaced by fluorescent lamps as it has higher PAR. By 2005 LEDs are used as a light source.
- By the end of 2014 vertical farming was popularised in Japan. One hundred sixty–five commercial producing companies were practising vertical farming. Which eventually increased to 200 by the end of the year.
- Form last one decade 45 organization has been working on how they can increase urban agriculture with the practice of vertical agriculture. Out of these 45 organizations, 2 are a research institute, four universities and the rest are private companies.
- Various research is going on regarding how to increase the output of food production efficiently.
- In Korea ministry of knowledge economy did start a project in 2009 in the name of development of major components on plant factories
- By the end of 2012 demonstration projects to an upscale new project to promote new small business
- over the period they have developed some of the high tech gadgets which are useful for vertical farming and exported them which was economically feasible in the domestic market
- By the year 2000’s many plants made pharmaceuticals started using this technique for growing crops. Commercial buildings started to produce genetically modified plants by the end of the year.
- Most of the commercial buildings were begin setup near megacities like New York, Brooklyn, by the end of 2012, 30 different kinds of plants were started to produce in these commercial buildings.
- With the period vertical farming and vertical gardening are getting immensely popular day by day. However, the important thing to note is the historical significance of its development in a different section of the world.
The development of this project was to meet the demand for foods sustainably. Recent efforts have lead to the development of certain techniques like permaculture, aquaponics, and many more.
Vertical farming is a good way to conserve resources and utilize every extend of the resources. Why there is a need for a more sustainable approach? The challenges faced during the transition for the sustainable approach are often related to resource competition, community development, environmental integrity, and human health. so there are so many reasons to develop this system further to push the limit of the boundaries regarding utilization of the approach.
Modern society is more concerned about the resources and the nutritional value of a plant. To push things a little further new mechanism uses traditional farming which uses greenhouse gases and indoor vertical Gardening to create a system. System call “hydroponic vertical farming” has been developed to produce quality and virus free product. also a new kind of application known as irrigation loop is being developed which collects and recycle the water vapour present in the plants leaves.
In short, as vertical Gardening and vertical gardening are gaining popularity day by day; many new innovative ideas are being developed to push things further. The increasing demand for food in urban areas is also one of the main reason which has triggered the gaining popularity of this new system.
Different types of Vertical farming
Benefits of vertical farming
Why consider vertical farming in the first place? There are many reasons behind considering vertical Gardening or vertical gardening in place of traditional farming. It has many advantages like using vertical gardening or farming can ensure maximum yield of crops. The thing about vertical farming is that it reduces the dependency on the weather for growing crops. Any crop can be grown throughout the year, and the process of photosynthesis goes on constantly, which makes the crop grow faster than usual because of the presence of LED lights.
Secondly, because of vertical gardening, extra money spends on transportation is being reduced because most vertical farms are situated near urban areas. Usage of less transport means there will be a certain amount of pollution reduction. This technique not only yield more crops but is also eco-friendly to use.
Thirdly, minimal usage of water, this technique uses very minimum water; it only uses 10% of the amount of water compared to the amount of water needed in traditional farming. We know very well that most of the accessible portable water is used for agriculture. With the help of a vertical gardening technique, we can save water.
Another thing about farming is that we need a large area to produce a large number of crops. This problem is solved by the method of vertical gardening as the expansion of lands is in an upward direction. Plants are arranged in stacks.
The quality of the crop has always been compromised because of the issue of climatic change, usage of pesticides, or natural calamities. Also, with the increase of the urban population demand for food is at a peak. Increasing demands for local production for local consumption has led to the development of this sustainable plan known as vertical farming.
Compared to traditional agriculture, vertical Gardening provides 100 times higher annual productivity regardless of weather or season. The best thing about vertical Gardening is that it can be built-in in shades or unused areas such as empty buildings even in the basement.
The distance between production and consumption sites is minimized, thus reducing fuel consumption, CO2 emissions, and traffic for food transportation.
Moreover, most of all, people who live in an urban area can enjoy fresh and quality food because of vertical Gardening.
Safe, enjoyable, and light-work job opportunities under comfortable environments are created for a wide range of people, including elderly and disabled persons.
Most importantly, a 90% reduction in land area thanks to more than ten times an increase in annual productivity per unit land area.
Is vertical Gardening or farming the future of agriculture?
Like anything, the technique which uses technology is most like to be improved and can bring innovation and improvement. In the future, we hope to see great efficiency in a large-scale commercial farm, more addition of technological aspects, and most importantly, acceptance of the value of vertical farms and garden.
There already exists a system where there is high-level monitoring of the farms. A more advanced level of monitoring is controlled through computer programs. They provide the detail from humidity level to expected crop production. Moreover, in the future, we might see the up gradation and accuracy.
We know vertical farms do a great job in crop yielding by taking a small amount of water, but they have a lot more energy consumption which leads to a huge amount of energy cost. As it is indoor farming, they need a constant supply of heat and light. Electricity cost is quite high. We expect to see the development of this sector of vertical farming.
The big step of vertical Gardening would be likely to be the increase in the overall efficiency in energy consumption. Although this is still in progress, many companies all around the globe are developing such an energy system that either relies on solar energy or takes solar energy as a powerful supplement for the farms.
Resource-Saving Characteristics of Vertical Gardening
- 100% reduction in pesticide application by keeping the culture room clean and free from pest insects.
- 95% reduction in water consumption by recycling water vapour that is transpired by plant leaves and condensed into liquid water at the cooling panels of air conditioners.
- 90% reduction in variation of yield and quality by accurate and optimal environmental control regardless of weather and season.
- 50% reduction in fertilizer consumption by recycling with little drainage of circulating nutrient solution.
- 50–70% reduction in labour hours per unit yield by the optimal layout of culture systems, organized operations, automation, and fewer physiological disorders of plants.
- 10–30% reduction in plant residue by less loss caused by physical, chemical, and biological damage of produce.
We are in the middle of the global situation; we are in the middle of an inevitable ultimatum we might evolve and grow and nurture ourselves or might become obsolete. The thing about us humans is that we are driven towards survival and evolving, and this is the easiest way which seems to us an attractive option. When it comes down to the future of agriculture we should start evolving right now before it is too late while doing so we might face many challenges like the lighting system then the resource problem and so and so.
To improve the resilience and sustainability of society, more diverse plant production systems, indoor farming is required. Many people understand the value of vertical farms. After all this, the question remains is vertical Gardening is the future of food production? The answer is with the involvement of technology; a newer form of advancement can be seen soon. The future of food production holds many great things. Yeah, vertical farming is one of them. Lastly, we want to conclude adopting new farming techniques like vertical gardening will be condemnatory to our global well being