Alarming Need For Vertical Farming!
Innovations & revolutions are two unstoppable processes. Indoor farming is a valuable method of cultivation which is now being accompanied by yet another farming technique; Vertical farming. The concept of vertical farming is actually rediscovered and was firstly suggested by American Geologist G.E Bailey in 1915. He has given the idea of indoor farming using multi-story high-rise building.
As an agriculture graduate, I can easily distinguish between various types of farming methods. But for a layman, I have to describe the indoor method of farming and its benefits. Indoor farming is a technique of indoor cultivation of the crops or plants on a large scale which often includes the use of UV light or hydroponics. The artificial light provides the plants with essential nutrients and light energy for proper growth. Common produce includes fruits, vegetables, and herbs.
The agriculture world is continuously looking for new resources of food as well as new techniques to grow food for many years. The reason is to equip the ever increasing population with the necessary amount of edibles. The notion of Indoor farming has then mesmerized the agriculturists and food scientists as described by FAO (2016); “The planet is running short of farmland to feed a growing number of people”. While according to OECD 70 percent of global water is used in agricultural activities.
There are numerous other reasons that would justify the need for indoor farming. It includes the rapid increase in population & urbanization, shrinking water supply, and changing climatic conditions as described by researchers at Agribio Centre Australia.
Indoor farming requires small spaces, a minor amount of water and labour supply. It can also produce various amounts of unseasonal crops in urban areas. It needs small or no amount of pesticides and various sprays. There is more control over temperature, amount of light, humidity levels & nutrition levels. These are the logic behind the rising popularity of indoor farming. Agriculturists claim that 0.25 gallons of water are required to produce a head of lettuce in an indoor farm rather than 34 gallons in a traditional outdoor farm.
Vertical farming requires an even lesser amount of space, more controlled environment and use of soluble nutrients & injected fertilizers termed as fertigation. This process of farming is more productive and sustainable. It is actually a combination of agriculture, architecture, and technology. It ensures the availability of organic food while reducing the time of food transportation. It may offer biosecurity, pest-free and more tolerant crops.
Urban Crop Solutions, A Belgian Company, claims that vertical farming can reduce growth cycle of crops to 20 days from 70 days in outdoor farms and 40-50 days in the greenhouse. It also reduces the water consumption from 35Liters & 15Liters in outdoor and greenhouse respectively to 1.5Liters. Moreover, postharvest handling is too easy and too low in case of vertical farming.
The agriculturists and food scientists are, however, still finding the least expensive ways of indoor technologies to overcome the cost issues.