Vertical farming refers to a method of growing or cultivating where crops are stacked vertically on top of one another. This allows for more layers of product in a smaller space. As space and airable land become limited and demand continues to grow, this newer method of harvesting crops will start to become a new norm. Vertical farming allows for growth in areas such as shipping containers, and warehouses.
Benefits of Vertical Farming
There are many benefits to vertical farming. The first, in the fact that it allows for the growth of more products in the same amount of square footage. Vertical Farms can also feed more people then regular farming can because they grow 75 times more food per square foot then a traditional farm. One acre of an indoor area offers equivalent production to at least 4-6 acres of outdoor capacity.
Vertical Farming allows producers to grow year long, which is especially beneficial to our short growing seasons in Alberta. Therefore, there is always a great product to offer. Harvest schedules can be customized to consumers’ needs or higher demand periods. This can also ensure quality and flavourful product all year round.
Vertical farming is efficient, in that it requires less water more than 70%. Although traditional farming can use techniques such as drip irrigation and more it still does not come close to the savings that vertical farming provide. Also, the use of chemical pesticides is not needed, yielding more organic products for consumers.
When it comes to vertical farming technology and systems there are many options to growing crops The physical layout is typically in towers or they may use horizontal structures stacked on top of each other. They can also be grown along walls called green walls. Some farms are grown within modular containers as well. Once the physical layout is established lighting and growing mediums can be determined.
Lighting is one of the most important aspects of vertical farming technology. There are a few options to mimic natural light when it comes to farming indoors.
Vertical farming requires powerful grow lighting to grow crops. Fluorescent lights are most common are typically used for growing herbs and vegetables indoors. They are two types which include fluorescent tubes and Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs). They can easily fit into tight spaces and give off a powerful light and save more energy than incandescent bulbs.
HPS Grow lights or High-Pressure Sodium lights and used by many commercial growers. They do give off a significant amount of heat so it is important to ensure proper measures when it comes to the distance between crops and lighting.
LED grow lights are the most energy-efficient among all three basic types of grow lights. They also do not produce heat which can harm crops. The downside of LED lights? They do yield the highest cost and can pose safety hazards if proper eye protection is not taken.
Vertical farming systems can use also use a variety of growing mediums to harvest their crops. Hydroponics uses a soil-free system by planting the plants in a nutrient-rich solution. It must be circulated and monitored to ensure the proper chemical composition of the solution.
Aeroponics uses no soil and very little water to grow plants. The innovation of Aeroponics in the field of vertical farming was made by The National Aeronautical and Space Administration (NASA). It is the most efficient way to grow using only mists of water on the plant and roots to make it grow. They are said to intake the most nutrients and vitamins. Lettuce, herbs, and strawberries are best used in Aeroponics
Aquaponics combines fish and plants in the same closed ecosystem. In this system, fish grow in indoor ponds and the plants use the nutrient-rich waste as a food source that the fish produce. This creates a thriving system for the fish and plants to grow together. Many types of fruits and vegetables can be grown efficiently with goldfish, tilapia, carp, sunfish, bass, koi and more.
All growing mediums depend on the type of crop and the amount of product being grown.
The Future of Vertical Farming
A growing population and increased urban living are expected to boost vertical farming in the coming years. In addition to a decrease in sustainable landmass, the quality that vertical farming can product year-round and keep within their own local markets will drive the market in favor of this type of system. Vertical farming will also provide many green options for our population as less deforestation is needed and the water conservation, and reduced waste is much more favorable.
There are many options when it comes to the technology, robotics, and automation used to build a system like this. BP Automation can build your vertical farming technology. If you need a custom build, contact us today and our team of engineers and designers would be happy to help you with your product.