If you’re a farming or gardening enthusiast, there are a couple of things about vertical farming you should know about. While there are many ways to define this novel mode of farming, in the simplest terms, Vertical Farming is a practice where food is produced in fairly inclined areas.
Unlike conventional farming, where crops are planted at a single level, this unique method helps produce food in vertical and completely stacked layers that are well-integrated into multiple structures like shipping containers or skyscrapers.
Leveraging the Controlled Environment Agriculture Technology, this modern farming technique makes the most out of indoor farming methods. The method involves artificially controlling the temperature, the light, and the gases.
That is also the reason many farmers find Vertical Farming to bear multiple similarities with greenhouse farming. The main goal of this farming method is to maximize the output of crops in a small or cramped space.
But what exactly are the benefits of Vertical Farming? Does it come with any cons? Well, just in case you’re asking yourself these questions, you’ve just come to the right place. This article will explore everything you need to know about this mode of farming.
Advantages of Vertical Farming
As mentioned, vertical farming has a fair share of pros. In this section, we will discuss it in detail.
1. Ensures Consistent Crop Production
One of the biggest benefits of vertical arming lies in the fact that it is extremely reliable. That means when you opt for vertical farming, you can be assured of getting consistent crop production throughout the year.
This is simply because vertical farming doesn’t usually rely on the weather, allowing you to cultivate crops without getting worked up about adverse weather conditions.
When you farm in a completely protected and highly monitored zone, you also receive repeated crop production without any hindrance. Since the impact of mother nature on production is eliminated here, the idea of the seasonal crop no longer exists, and cultivators won’t encounter losses when they try pushing the production window for seasonal cropping.
Also, with vertical farming, farmers have the opportunity to substantially reduce the overall harvest duration while simultaneously increasing the harvest yield. Importantly, these improvements can be achieved without compromising the flavor or quality of the produce, ensuring a consistent and high-quality output.
Indeed, when farmers adhere to proper guidelines in the practice of vertical farming, the flavor profile and the overall shelf life of the produce have demonstrated significant improvement.
The consistency aspect makes vertical farming a preferred method, especially for commercial growers, as they can now confidently commit to different delivery schedules and take the agreements requested by customers without the initial fear of mother nature.
2. Uses Space Optimally
If you’re familiar with farming, you probably know that conventional farming requires large swathes of completely fertile land. However, vertical farming doesn’t have any such pre-requisite conditions.
You can design and build these farms in practically all kinds of locations and climates and still be assured of cultivating crops regardless of temperature extremities or adverse weather conditions.
Another remarkable quality of vertical farming is its stacking growth system. Thanks to this system, you can achieve more productivity in a fairly small patch of land.
In fact, depending on the kind of crop that you plan to grow, around one acre of a vertical farm can consistently grow the crops you probably would have grown in 10 to 20 acres of land.
3. Reduces Usage of Water and Other Agricultural Necessities
One of the biggest perks of vertical farming is that it follows a Hydroponic growing process whereby only 10% of the water is used. This mode of farming also uses fewer fertilizers and nutrients when compared to conventional methods.
Since the water is completely clean even after usage, it can be duly reused, thereby reducing the total cost and cutting down on waste.
4. Cuts Down on Transport Costs
When we’re talking about food production, last-mile delivery is often deemed the most expensive aspect of the entire supply chain. If you’re familiar with the farming process, you would also know that crops must be shipped across multiple oceans, countries, and continents.
However, vertical farming poses no such issue. This is because, unlike conventional farming, vertical cultivation of crops is one of those rare modes of farming that allows you to grow crops practically anywhere.
This means you can always choose to grow crops in an area where your customer lives, thereby reducing transportation costs, carbon dioxide emissions, and the constant need for refrigerating your produce. At the end of the day, this not only contributes to the freshness of your products but also makes them incredibly profitable.
5. Less Labour Costs
If you plan to practice vertical farming in a completely automated indoor growing system, you wouldn’t need massive chunks of labor to get consistent, annual production. This process only requires individuals/laborers with relatively low skills.
Since all they need to do is manage and pack the harvests, the overall labor overhead costs tend to be very low. This way, you can enjoy more produce with cheaper labor and even scale up your production without worrying about the additional costs.
6. Energy Efficient
Vertical farming is also a highly energy-efficient process. Although this mode of farming uses LED lighting, certain vertical farms also have the capacity to generate their own power.
For instance, you will find multiple organizations specializing in renewable technologies that combine heat and power to create an efficient solution that can harness the extra energy, which can later be used in other areas of your business. You can also transfer the excess energy to your respective power grid and save extra money.
7. Doesn’t Involve Chemicals or Pesticides
Growing food on a vertical farm can completely eliminate the need to invest in pesticides. That is because your farming is practiced in a controlled environment that prohibits the entry of pests.
This prevents crop damage and reduces the chance of fungal ailments as the humidity levels are now duly managed. At the end of the day, you are left with a product that is not just better but also healthier and safer to consume.
8. Limits Occupational Hazards
This is yet another excellent benefit when it comes to vertical farming. Unlike traditional farming, vertical farming is both human-friendly and sustainable. It can successfully minimize the occupational hazards that you would otherwise witness in the case of traditional farming.
With indoor farming in place, no farmer is exposed to the hazards of using heavy farming gear. They are also well-protected from a range of ailments like malaria, issues from harmful chemicals, and other conditions in that line.
Since this mode of farming does not affect trees and animals around inland zones, it is also an excellent way to promote biodiversity.
9. The Future of Farming
Many have termed vertical Farming to be the farming of the future, and rightfully so! This is even more true because a huge chunk of the human population will likely move to urban areas by 2050.
In a situation like this, the population is likely to grow, and population growth will boost the demand for proper, well-grown, organic food.
Of course, as the population grows, so does the amount of land used for settlements. This means the available land for cultivation will keep shrinking, which is where vertical farming comes in, thanks to its efficient use of space.
10. Larger Produce
The biggest benefit of vertical farming is that it helps produce more crops in general. As we already know, this mode of farming enables cultivators to produce crops consistently in a small area. Interestingly, it also boosts the amount of produce.
Unlike traditional farming, which may depend on the season, water, space, area, sunlight, and several other external factors for bulk produce, such is not the case with vertical farming. Instead, it will continuously produce a bulk amount of yield if you meet all the perquisites.
Disadvantages of Vertical Farming
As with everything else, Vertical Farming comes with a set of cons as well. In this section, we will take a closer look at these disadvantages.
1. Less Pollination
As you probably know, vertical farming is performed in a controlled indoor environment. While this comes with many advantages, it also hinders the entry or advent of insects. That means the process of pollination is almost entirely hindered.
In situations like these, farmers need to consider manual pollination, which although feasible at the outset, is often known to be extremely intensive and extravagant in terms of cost. So, when it comes to the cost factor, this is one issue that is likely to stay.
2. Technology Dependent
Developing newer and more advanced technologies can boost efficiency while also reducing costs. Since vertical farming is technology-dependent, it is likely to enjoy both the aforementioned benefits.
However, vertical farming does not just use one specific technology. Instead, it depends on a range of technologies for lighting, regulating temperature, managing humidity, and more.
Even a single issue with either of these technologies can hinder the process of vertical farming. For instance, if the cultivar loses power for one day, it can be extremely costly for the day’s produce.
In fact, the innovation needed to leverage this mode of farming is so sophisticated that it’s believed our modern-day technologies are not mature enough for mass adoption. However, this is still contended by some who believe technology is ever-evolving and will benefit vertical farmers over time.
3. Affects Communities
This is yet another disadvantage that many economic scholars have deliberated about. One of the biggest issues with vertical farming is that it can affect and even destabilize a set of communities almost entirely dependent on agriculture.
Given its many benefits, vertical farming can easily make conventional farming obsolete and outdated. So, families who are currently living below the poverty line or are currently on the poverty line are likely to suffer the most from this mode.
Many have also opined that vertical farming will lead to a point where urban agriculture will be a competitor to conventional, rural agriculture. Since this can affect several lives and communities, it is important to follow the right strategies.
Strategies should be formulated and implemented so that urban and rural dwellers can successfully transition into vertical farming at minimal costs. Government officials, too, should be encouraged to create new laws and policies to help implement this novel agricultural trend.
Well, now that you are well aware of the pros and cons of vertical farming, you might want to consider this unique approach to growing crops. While this type of farming has a couple of cons, its benefits certainly outweigh the disadvantages. So, wait no further. Check out the gear you need, and get started with vertical farming immediately!