Throughout time, one of the most frustrating aspects of farming has been the unpredictability associated with it.
From bad weather to pests to droughts and more, the slightest tweak in the environment could damage a significant amount of crops. Plus, the land required to maintain productive farms means that outdoor farms take up about 45% of the United States’ land that’s suitable for farming.
Instead of looking around for better farming land, innovative farmers and technology companies are looking up.
Vertical farming takes place in abandoned warehouses or other urban buildings, and crops are grown with the help of hydroponic techniques and environmental monitoring tools.
With vertical farming, more people can be fed with less space; experts estimate that a 30-story farm could feed 50,000 people a 2,000 calorie per day diet for an entire year.
Vertical farming also avoids the 50% failure rate that traditional farms suffer (thanks to the weather, insect infestations, etc).
Instead, vertical farming has a controlled environment that relies on LED lighting instead of sunlight, meaning that lighting can be adjusted to provide the exact light wavelengths needed without wasting light.
The same goes for water; vertical farms use water-recycling methods and use up to 90% less water than traditional farms, with the help of aquaponics and aeroponics.
Finally, vertical farming decreases greenhouse gas emissions since vertical farms don’t use any farm machinery. Also, because the farms are urban-based, the distance from farm-to-grocery is much shorter.
Of course, vertical farms do have some obstacles to overcome. Most notably, vertical farms are often held back by high start-up costs (especially when it comes to finding available real estate) and energy infrastructure (vertical farms require a steady electrical infrastructure, which isn’t always available in the developing world).
However, even with these limitations, things are looking up for vertical farming.