vertical farming

Vertical farming is the practice of growing food in vertically stacked layers. ATTRIBUTION: Photo by Valcenteu (Wikimedia Commons)

Traditional farming isn’t going anywhere, but the ever-increasing population has made it necessary to seek food sources elsewhere, too. One interesting trend that I’ve seen is called vertical farming. Vertical farming is a revolutionary approach that allows for large-scale agriculture inside urban high-rise buildings.

Vertical farms have been popping up all over the world, many in areas where traditional agriculture would have been impossible. To save space, vertical farms tower multiple stories high and typically use artificial lights that mimic the sun as well as hydroponic systems that eliminate the need for soil. As our population rises and space for growing crops shrinks, vertical farming will allow us to expand the limits of our food supply.

Pros of Vertical Farming

Vertical farming has a lot of advantages. As crops are grown in a controlled environment, the result is organic foods grown without the use of pesticides or insecticides. A controlled environment also means no insects to attack plants or spread disease. In addition, vertical farming platforms are kept at fixed temperatures, which protects the crops from damage due to adverse weather conditions.

Vertical farming is also more consistent and reliable than conventional farming, which often means an increased crop supply. With controlled temperatures, humidity, and light, crop cycles are faster without sacrificing quality. One of the biggest benefits of vertical farming is that it provides a safety net for our future. Many believe that vertical farming is an essential solution to feeding the world’s growing population.

Cons of Vertical Farming

While there are many benefits of vertical farming, there are also some negatives. Pollination is a major concern. At traditional farms, insects are the natural pollinators. As no insects are used in vertical farming, pollination must be done by hand, which is labor-intensive. Also, land in urban centers is costly, even if you’re not using that much of it, and the technology and manpower needed to run a vertical farm can be expensive.

While most vertical farms do use as much sunlight as possible to their advantage, most have to rely heavily on artificial lighting. This energy use is not only costly but also harmful to the environment, as electricity is often generated by burning fossil fuels. It’s also important to note that vertical farms are not able to produce the wide variety of crops that are available to us now due to their controlled environment.

Future of Vertical Farming

While much controversy still remains, the future of vertical farming looks promising. Many of the variables that can wreak havoc on conventional outdoor farming, such as flooding, droughts, and disease, will no longer be an issue, as vertical farms are kept in a controlled environment. As no soil is used and no pesticides are needed, there will be no pollution caused by runoff. As vertical farms can be built nearly anywhere, they will likely sprout up in cities across the globe. Vertical farming also uses approximately 98 percent less water than conventional farming, allowing us to better conserve one of our most important natural resources.