There are various reasons why one would want to get involved in vertical farming. Increasing production is obviously one of those but it’s not the only one. By using techniques of vertical farming one can also bring in more reliability to production cycle by taking out variables like pests, soil, sunlight, water and even climate that can impact production cycle. Let’s look at each one of these individually:
- Pests: Majority of pests that impact crops will either be soil borne or air borne. Since vertical farming techniques do not use soil so it eliminates the risk posed by soil borne pests without using any pesticides or harmful chemicals. Coming to air borne pests, they may impact vertical farming crops just like they do organic produce or normal crops. Still, the impact can be minimised further by taking vertical farming indoors and taking care of proper sanitation and sterilization in growing area.
- Soil: Crops grown outside soil do not need to spend a lot of energy in finding grow space for its roots against the resistance posed by hard soil particles. This results in a much faster growth and shorter crop cycle as a larger share of energy is available for crop growth.
- Sunlight: Most of the plants cannot grow without light but that does not mean they cannot grow without sunlight. In fact, plants use only specific frequencies from sunlight, less than 50% of those available in natural sunlight. So, if the specific frequencies and intensity of lights needed by plants can be provided to them directly, they can grow much faster than plants grown using sunlight alone.
- Water: More than 80% of water added to plants in traditional farming gets lost to leaching or evaporation. In vertical farming, however, same water can be recirculated thus ensuring that most of it remains available for plants and gets reused. In fact, vertical farming can bring out a saving of more than 90% in water usage as compared to traditional farming. Think of how it can improve the plight of our farmers and solve for annual water crisis that we see in different parts of our country.
- Climate: since vertical farming eliminates need of soil and sunlight and uses a minimal amount of water, it can be carried out in any enclosed area and does not need to be necessarily carried out in fertile fields. Let’s say a warehouse or a poultry farm or even an old shipping container can be converted into a vertical farm (shipping containers? Don’t believe us – that’s exactly what a US based company did). Since all these areas are enclosed and provide an environment that can be controlled using technology, natural climatic changes or vagaries do not impact crops produced indoor through vertical farming.
Thus, using evolved technologies of vertical farming and taking the entire farming operation indoors, it is possible to bring a very high degree of predictability in crop growth cycle and enjoy a year-round production of high-quality healthy crops. This does come at a high initial setup cost though but it more than pays for over a few years by reducing the risks inherent in traditional farming practices.
Gaurav is an entrepreneur whose first Start-up was focused on providing services to patients suffering from Chronic Diseases. While researching about the causes of lifestyle diseases and the ways to reduce their incidence, he chanced upon the idea of growing healthy and nutritious food using advanced farming techniques.
He founded CityGreens with a mission to enable City Dwellers to access Safe, Healthy and Fresh food.