In recent years, vertical farming has gained significant attention as a sustainable and effective method of growing crops in urban areas where there is limited access to land and space. But what is vertical farming, and how does it work? In this blog post, we will explore vertical farming’s benefits, one disadvantage and how it may be applied to some of the challenges facing tropical urban agriculture.
What is vertical farming?
Vertical farming is the practice of growing crops in vertically stacked layers in controlled environments. Instead of being grown in the traditional horizontal rows, crops are grown on top of one another using vertical farming equipment or modules.
The controlled environments could be indoor farms (with led light) or greenhouses. These controlled environments reduce the risk of contamination from environmental factors such as dust, pests, and pollutants, leading to safer and healthier produce.
The systems of growing crop plants in vertical farms could be Hydroponics (growing crop plants in nutrient solution and/or soilless substrates), Aeroponics (growing crop plants in air with misty environment) and Aquaponics (Aquaculture + Hydroponics).
The first vertical farm came into existence in the 1950s, when researchers proposed growing crops in multi-story buildings with artificial lighting. However, it wasn’t until advances in technology and the increasing demand for sustainable food production made vertical farming a practical and feasible solution.
Today, vertical farming is being used in urban areas around the world to grow a variety of crops, from leafy greens, spices and herbs to fruits and vegetables. By growing crops in a controlled environment, vertical farming offers several benefits over traditional farming methods.
One of the benefits of vertical farming is increased yield. By stacking crops vertically, more crops can be grown per unit of area, resulting in a higher yield per square meter than traditional farming methods. This increased yield is especially advantageous in urban areas where land is limited and expensive.
Vertical farming conditions can be optimized to shorten the time to harvest. With precise control over temperature, humidity, and lighting, crops can grow faster and healthier than with traditional farming methods. This control also allows for year-round production independent of seasonal changes and weather conditions.
Vertical farming uses 90% less water than traditional farming methods. Moreover, water and nutrient can be recycled and reused within the system.
There is also the benefit of a reduced need for labour to engage in cultural practices as seen in the traditional farming method.
A prominent disadvantage of the vertical farming system is the high level of energy consumption, especially where crop plants are grown indoors.
The good news is that at Kaspharyn Solutions Nigeria, we have been able to adapt vertical farming system to tropical urban agriculture. This vertical farming system is low-tech and has zero/low energy consumption which can be set up in your backyard open space, under net house or naturally ventilated greenhouse to grow strawberries, leafy vegetables, spices and herbs.
In conclusion, vertical farming is a promising solution to addressing some of the challenges facing modern agriculture. With its many benefits, it offers a sustainable and efficient method of growing crops, especially in urban areas where space is limited.