As systems in the climate are getting more complex, we are looking for more ways to integrate technology with the environment in order to take a step into the sustainable future. Recently, I came across an interesting technological advance in an industry that hasn’t been disrupted for a long time – Agriculture. Scientists and engineers are working towards a sustainable future by working on technology that’s called “Vertical Farming”.
Benefits of Vertical Farming
Vertical Farming is a derivative of urban farming where plants and crops are grown on vertically inclined surfaces. There are a couple of benefits that are an outcome of vertical farming:
- Less time to fully grow crops for consumption
- Substantially less water is required
- Less fertilizer and little or no pesticides, herbicides, and/or fungicides, making it a naturally grown vegetable
- Shorter time for transport resulting in less spoiled crops and air pollution from vehicles
- Vertical is not weather dependent, it uses LED lighting to enhance photosynthesis
- Seasons are not a factor when growing crops
Although Vertical Farming is in theory a better practice than traditional farming in the environmental lens, we haven’t seen many companies take this route to agriculture because it’s taxing for the economy and not a viable business model. In addition to the economic factors, only salad greens are able to be grown in Vertical Farming because it requires the least space and has a shorter growth cycle than most vegetables.
A leader in Vertical Farming
A New Jersey company, AeroFarms, is currently in the process of creating the world’s largest vertical farming facility that will have the ability to produce over 2 million pounds of salad greens annually. In order to constantly improve the cons of Vertical Farming, AeroFarms mines 10,000 points of data per harvest cycle so that they can continually improve their process in urban agriculture.
The concept of Vertical Farming has emerged in 1999 and just started to pick up steam. Although it is still an industry that does not belong to the current system of economics, I believe that as technology improves we will see applications of Vertical Farms more frequently in areas where traditional agriculture was impossible.