Vertical Farming-Think Above the Ground
Khetalo aims to bring urban agriculture to the next level by designing and developing different systems for urban agriculture. Among them is a simple vertical garden designed as a prototype to grow plants and vegetables at our home and office spaces. We aim to show that growing our own organic food is a feasible, economic and wise thing to do, even inside and around our homes. The economic benefits can be easily analyzed from the following features of vertical farming.
The problem we are seeking to solve by introducing Vertical Farming is the inevitable space crunch in urban areas. It’s undeniable that buying land in cities and urban areas for growing your food has become almost impossible owing to the unregulated price hike of this limited land, and uncontrolled influx of population into cities. Urban agriculture, specifically Vertical Farming technologies can thus allow us to own rather limited land, yet grow our food organically. We need this now more than ever, not just to start a culture of being more environment friendly and sustainable, but also as a possible amend to curb the overwhelming air pollution we are bound to live with.
The economic benefits can be easily analyzed from the following features of vertical farming:
1. Increased and Year-round Crop Production:
This farming technology can ensure crop production all year-round in non-tropical regions. 1 indoor acre is equivalent to 4-6 outdoor acres or more, depending on the crop.
Furthermore, indoor farming will minimize infestation and post harvest spoilage.
2. Protection from Weather-related Problems:
Because the crops will be grown under controlled environment, they will be safe from extreme weather occurences such as droughts and floods.
3. Organic Crops Production:
The advantages of this urban farming technology can be further exploited by large scale production of organic crops. The controlled growing conditions will allow a reduction or total abandonment of the use of chemical pesticides.
4. Water Conservation and Recycling:
With water requirements as low as 70% than the traditional farming system, vertical growing reduces the total water usage while it circulates and recycles itself.
5. Environment Friendly:
Every land area that will be developed for this farming technology will reduce by a hundred fold the necessity of utilizing land for food production. This will promote the regrowth of trees which are effective in CO2 sequestration.
Growing crops indoor reduces or eliminates the use of mechanical plows, and other equipment, thus reducing the burning of fossil fuel. As a result, there will be a significant reduction in air pollution and CO2 emission that cause climatic change. Furthermore, CO2 emission will be reduced from shipping crops across continents and oceans. A healthier environment will be enhanced for both humans and animals.
Lesser disturbance to the land surface will also favor the increase in the population of animals that live in and around farmlands. Vertical farming therefore favors biodiversity.
6. Human Health Friendly:
Indoor farms will reduce the occupational hazards associated with traditional, horizontal farming and also will provide fresh air inside and outside our living spaces.
The availability of fresh and safe food will be beneficial to the population.
7. Energy Conservation and Production:
Selling of the crops in the same building in which they are grown will significantly reduce the consumption of fuel that is used in transporting the crops to the consumers.
8. Sustainable Urban Growth:
Vertical farming, applied in a holistic approach in conjunction with other technologies, can allow urban areas to absorb the expected influx of more population and yet still remain food sufficient. The technology could provide more employment to the rural populace expected to converge to the cities in the years to come. However, traditional farming will continue because many crops are not suited to indoor farming.
Author: Subash Chapagain
Photo Credit: Rishav Adhikari