Vertical Farming

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Vertical Farming
By Jerry Brownstein
The future of food may depend on the expansion of vertical agriculture that saves water, conserves soil and can be produced anywhere without considering climate. This system optimizes growing conditions in a controlled environment using artificial light. It reduces water requirements by up to 90%, and is free from pests so no poisonous chemicals are needed. “Crops are grown in spaces ranging in size from small boxes that can be placed in homes to industrial production facilities with several thousand square meters of growing area,” said Professor Senthold Asseng of the Technical University of Munich. “Vertical farming has the potential to grow up to 100 layers of crops above one another, thus conserving large areas of agricultural land.” Another benefit of vertical farming is that crops can be harvested numerous times per year.

Until recently, the expansion of vertical farming has been hampered by the fact that it is very energy intensive. However, the cost of efficient LED lighting has dropped significantly over the past decade, and this is one of the main reasons why the industry is growing. Another energy factor to be considered is that certain crops require more electricity than others. For instance, tomatoes require 60% more electricity than lettuce, so choosing the right crops makes the operation more sustainable. Vertical farming is not intended to replace farming on land, but it can play an essential role in contributing to the global food yield.


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