As per projections from the United Nations, the world’s population is expected to surpass 9.7 billion in 2050. A large number of these people will reside in metropolitan areas. It will be tough to feed the ballooning population because less and lesser land will be available for traditional crop farming.
Anticipated food shortages, malnutrition, and high demand for food necessitate increased agricultural output in preparation for future needs.
Consumers are also increasingly conscious of the groceries they buy, and they prefer organic produce that is unpolluted and noncarcinogenic.
Also, traditional farming practices lead to environmental damage, and countries are moving to more environmentally friendly agricultural methods, such as indoor farming. One type of indoor farming is vertical farming.
What is Vertical Farming?
Vertical farming is a revolutionary way of crop growing on stacked layers, either in skyscrapers or by utilizing the z-axis axis (the 3rd dimension of space).
Rather than growing vegetables and other foods on a single level, as in a field or a greenhouse, this method involves vertically stacking growing plants on top of each other and adjoining them to skyscrapers, shipped containers, or refurbished warehouses.
Vertical farming maximizes yields using controlled lighting in any of the three vertical farming techniques in a limited physical space.
Interesting Facts of Vertical Farming Technologies
There are three technologies by which plants can be grown. Hydroponics, aeroponics, and aquaponics.
The most common vertical farming system, hydroponics, involves using a nutrient-rich solution to grow plants.
In a growing tray, the roots of the plants are submerged in a solution. The three primary tools are a reservoir beneath the tray, a water pump, and a stopwatch watch.
When the buzzer goes off, the growing tray is filled with the nutrient solution. This happens several times per day depending on plant parameters such as plant size, nutrient requirements, and growth cycle.
Each time, the plants are flooded with the solution, and the excess solution drains back into the reservoir with the help of gravitational force.
Calcium nitrate, potassium nitrate, potassium sulfate, magnesium sulfate, and monopotassium sulfate are the essential nutrients used in hydroponics systems.
According to Epic gardening, the micronutrients include silicon, copper, zinc, iron, boron, manganese, cobalt, sodium, molybdenum, and chlorine.
Crops grown in this system only require air and a small amount of mist.
Plants hanging in the air obtain nutrients by fine misting the root system, ensuring that the root systems get enough oxygen.
According to Agri house, there is a 90 percent reduction in water consumption in aeroponics technology compared to the most efficient hydroponic systems.
Plants also grow more quickly in this vertical farming system than in others.
The crop yields rise by a quarter or 75%, while fertilizer use drops by 60%.
In addition, plants grown in aeroponic systems have absorbed more significant quantities of minerals and vitamins, making the plants healthier and perhaps more nutritious.
Fish farming in a tank combined with hydroponic gardening is known as aquaponics. Fish and plants have a symbiotic relationship where the plants filter the water by getting rid of chemicals, and the fish provide nutrients.
The waste produced by fish is used as a nutrient supplement to help plants grow in a growing tray because it is high in nutrients.
Whereas fish live in water that has been naturally filtered by plants, the ammonia-rich water from the fish tank is pumped into the growth tray.
The ammonia is converted to nitrates, then nitrates by nitrifying bacteria in the soil. Eventually, the bacteria disintegrate the solids into vermicomposting, which the plants can use as a biofertilizer for their growth.
Water that has been decayed matter and used by the plants is recycled back into the fish tank.
Aquaponics significant advantage is that it is low maintenance once the system has been adequately established in the first month.
After carefully tracking the system in the first month, only the pH and ammonia levels need to be followed every week.
Best Vertical Farming Food Production Environment
As we established before, one of the significant attributes of vertical farming is controlled lighting. Vertical gardening utilizes artificial vertical farming lights that emit specific lighting needed for plans growth.
Given that sunlight contains a wide range of color spectra -imagine rainbows- plants only require a subset of these spectra to thrive, and these specific spectra look purplish.
The blue-red spectrum is the best lighting, and chlorophyll responds to the wavelengths by producing food in the process known as photosynthesis. Chlorophyll, as we know, is solely responsible for healthy plants growth.
Artificial lighting, therefore, provides better conditions for food production. Hence, proper lighting is crucial for increased production.
Vertical Farming LED Lights Is a Good Option
The sun is inefficient because it emits heat which is harmful to plants. So are other types of grow lights that emit heat. Vertical farming using LED lights overcomes this heat issue.
With LED lights, you can save money on your electricity bill while also reducing your carbon footprint. Unlike incandescent lamps that mimic daylight or the sun that gives a full spectrum while plants only need specific lighting, LED lights use up little energy, emit little heat and give off that purplish spectrum that is best for increased plant food production.
In addition, vertical farming using LED lights is better than relying on the sun’s light because the sun’s heat reduces the shelf life of the produce.
Also, because of the densely packed nature of vertical farming, relying solely on sunlight would exacerbate the heat problem and potentially harm the plants.
Disadvantages of LED Lighting
LED grow lights make it more difficult to detect pest damage because of the purple color. Farmers can also not see leaf rot or yellowing of plants that are not getting enough nutrients.
There is also the possibility of harming your vision if you do not wear eye-protective gear.
Vertical farming with the help of grow lights is an ideal solution to the increasing food demand and sustainable food production.
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