Is Vertical Farming a Sustainability Solution?

Farming is a noble practice that has allowed humankind to expand and grow. When thinking of such a practice, some may have the image of planting a seed in a flat field of soil. However, this image can be misleading for various reasons because culture and regions can play a factor in the type of farming technique used. Even before innovative farm systems like aquaponics and hydroponics became popular, there were already very distinct farming techniques created long ago by some cultures. From the paddy rice fields of China to the chinampas from Mexico, innovation has always been needed to conquer disadvantages. In these modern-times, vertical farming can be one of those innovations that may be needed to meet the demands of an ever-growing human population without further damaging our plant. 

What is a Vertical Farm?

Vertical farming is the technique of growing crops in vertically stacked layers. In most cases, these techniques are maintained in controlled-environment agriculture. The goal is to optimize plant growth without the need or use of soil. Some notable soilless farming techniques that are implemented alongside vertical farming include aeroponics, hydroponics, and aquaponics. The implemented system can vary but in general, the cultivation of the crops is constantly having its temperature, lighting, irrigation, airflow, and nutrients monitored and adjusted. There is even the option to implement and combine other sustainable systems with Vertical farming to create a zero-fossil fuel system. A good option being solar panels to run the lights, pumps, and other systems. 

Why is it imported?

The ever-growing human population has resulted in an increasing need for resources. One of the most valued resources being land due to various reasons like agriculture. Just recently a great example of this value was put to the test with the burning of the Amazon Rainforest for extra farming space. Modern agriculture has allowed for the expansion and growth of human civilization. Providing a consistent food supply to many but having a drastic impact on the surrounding ecosystems. Land space is valuable, especially today, for all the various possibilities that can be held and created in that space. As a result, there is habitat loss, pollution, genetic diversity loss, water waste, and much more due to the land being taken for human use. The same applies to large acres of farmlands used for food production. A Drive to San Francisco from Los Angeles is a great way to understand the scale of these farming operations used by humans. The farmland would stretch as far as the eye could see and continued for miles. At times, it could feel like being stuck in an endless loop. The scary thing is that even more land will be needed to maintain the future human population. If less land could be used to grow the same amount of food compared to the major farm, then it could be possible to someday revert the damage done to some ecosystems. The first step is to inform more people about this system’s potential.

Work Cited

Federman, Posted by Sarah, et al. “Vertical Farming for the Future.” USDA, 14 Aug. 2018, http://www.usda.gov/media/blog/2018/08/14/vertical-farming-future.

Horvath, Meghan. “Vertical Farming: What Is Vertical Farming?” Vertical Farming | What Is Vertical Farming?, http://www.foodunfolded.com/article/vertical-farming-whats-the-deal-anyway.

LeBlanc, Rick. “What You Should Know About Vertical Farming.” The Balance Small Business, http://www.thebalancesmb.com/what-you-should-know-about-vertical-farming-4144786.

“Vertical Farming.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 3 Dec. 2020, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vertical_farming.

4 thoughts on “Is Vertical Farming a Sustainability Solution?

  1. The link provided is to a PDF that illustrates the pros and cons for Vertical Farming. This type of farming is innovative by providing a controlled environment to increase production. However, as this method does utilize less space by going upwards (literally) in buildings versus expanding out across the fields it does meet some complications. There are additional costs for the land and building as well as for energy use. The transportation costs may be less than the conventional farming method but, there are costs for lighting and climate control. There is also a limit to the types of crops that can be grown with this method as the slower-grown vegetables are not as profitable or crops that require pollination as insects or arthropods in general are excluded from vertical farming; this may pose as a labor cost as individuals would need to pollinate by hand.

    https://attra.ncat.org/product/vertical-farming/

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  2. I like how you explained it in a simple way. Vertical is surprisingly not as commonly spoken about anymore. i thought it would be something of the future but it seems like hydroponic production has taken the spotlight. Something interesting in vertical farming is that the irrigation systems, the plots they are in, and the area you have can be so modular and the limit to how much you can do seems to be up to the creativity and knowledge of your GAP and engineering. i’ve seen Singapore do vertical farming when they use greenhouses to house rotating rows on a vertical storage rows that move with a chain. it was insane. what i have been wondering is did you mean important or imported? where is it imported? or what did you mean i’m sure it was a just a typo though. This along with a hydroponic production system is something i can see helping a community in plenty of ways.

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  3. Hi Arturo, great post on vertical farming! I feel like it is a topic that not many people are familiar with. Although vertical farming sounds very promising, I think there is a lot about vertical farming that some people might not be aware of. Vertical farming is limited in what can be grown indoors (mostly leafy greens). These indoor farms are quite expensive since they need to pay for start-up costs, energy use, equipment, as well as maintenance costs. This link discusses why vertical farming will not be able to feed the world and explains why it may not be able to reduce the environmental impacts of conventional agriculture. https://globalecoguy.org/no-vertical-farms-wont-feed-the-world-5313e3e961c0

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  4. I enjoyed reading your post on vertical farming! Vertical farming is something we hear about often while studying agriculture, especially urban agriculture, but others who are not studying agriculture may not know much about this. What you mentioned about about land being limited is something of high importance. Practices like this and hydroponics, aquaculture, and aquaponics are something that should be explored more when the amount of limited space grows and we must figure out what to. This is also a great alternative for areas where the soil is less suitable for plant growth. The link I am adding points out some of the things I mentioned and much more.

    https://verticalfarminstitute.org/vertical-farming/

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