Vertical farming is the method of producing, developing the food and medicine in vertically stacked layers. vertically designed surface or structure. (like skyscraper, warehouse, or shipping container). The vertical farming use indoor farming methods and maintained environment agriculture technology.
In this technology, all the environmental factors can be maintained. These technologies use the artificial control of light, environmental control like humidity, temperature, etc.
Vertical farming in India
Simply we can say that vertical farming is farm stacked together with one another. Vertical farming is used to grow vegetables, fruits, flowers, etc. This type of vertical farming is commonly used in small residential houses in India but if we make it commercially, it need to be seriously regarded with different different technologies.
Some of the vertical farms in India, use techniques similar to the greenhouses in which natural sunlight can be mixedwith artificial lighting.
The hydroponic systems are also used in the vertical farming that mimic the sun light.
In the vertical farming there are some softwares is used which ensure that, all the plants getting same amount of light, water and nutrients. Proper managements is done with this method of farming is very important.
Types of vertical farming
1. Mixed-use skyscrapers
Mixed-use skyscrapers were first introducd by architect Ken Yeang. According to Yeang plant life should be cultivated within open air, mixed-use skyscrapers for climate control and consumption. This type of vertical farming is based on the individual or group.
2. Despommier’s skyscrapers
The ecologist, Dickson Despommier said that vertical farming is legitimate for environmental reasons. According to him, the cultivation of plant in skyscrapers will require low embodied energy and produce low pollution than other method of producing plant on natural landscapes. The natural landscapes are highly toxic for natural agricultural production.
3. Stackable shipping containers
Some companies have developed stacking recycled shipping containers. Brighter side consulting introduced a complete off-grid container system in the vertical farming. Farms produces a “leafy green machine” which is a complete farm-to-table system. Vertical hydroponics, lighting and intuitive climate maintained built in a 12 m × 2.4 m shipping container.
Advantages of vertical farming
There are so many potential benefits of vertical farming :-
• Closed cycle crop production.
• It reduces the use of fossil fuels for farm.
• Makes use of abandoned.
• No weather can affect crop fully as compared to field crops.
• It offers the possibility of sustainability for urban people
• It converts the black and gray water for drinking
• It adds the energy back to the grid with the help of methane generation
• Creates employment opportunities for urban people.
• It reduces the risk of infection.
• It helps to restore functions ecosystem.
• It maintains vermin by using waste of residents for methane generation.
The value of four ecosystem services provided by existing plants was on the order of $33 billion annually. The annual food production of 90–170 million tonnes.
Energy savings ranging from 13 to 15 billion kilowatt hours, and nitrogen sequestration is between 120,000 and 180,000 tonnes and stormwater runoff reductions between 44 and 56 billion cubic meters per year.
The production of food, nitrogen fixation, savings of energy, pollination, regulation of climate, formation of soil and biological pest control could be worth about $90–170 billion per year.
The sun light on a vertical surface at an extreme source of energy, less light is available to crops during the growing time, when they are planted on flat land it require more light would be required by plants. Electricity power demands of vertical farming is uncompetitive with traditional farms, use only natural sunlight light.
As we know vertical farming proposes a controlled environment, heating, lighting and cooling so plumbing and elevator systems are necessary to supply nutrients and water.
Lighting used in vertical farming 4th Ming can be natural or LEDs. LED light are 28 per cent efficient, that keeps the cost, produce high and prevents vertical farms from competing in area where cheap vegetables are abundant. Energy costs in the vertical farming can be reduced because full-spectrum white light is not required only red, blue and purple light can be generated which consume less electricity.
Problems in the vertical farming
There is less potential profitability of vertical farming in India. Its economic and environmental benefits is very low because the distance that food travels from farm to consumer is very much and transportation causes the problem also the cost of transportation.
If generate electricity fossil fuel is used which affect the environment that may be a net loss.
The initial building costs of vertical farming, would exceed $2 million, for a 1 hectare. There occupancy costs can also be high in some cities like Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Delhi etc. ranging from $1000 to $1500 per square meter.
Pollution in the vertical farming depends on the electricity generation, because greenhouse produce creates more greenhouse gases than field produce due to higher energy use.
The pollution produced in environment is dependent on how the energy is generated for vertical farms. Greenhouses generally supplement CO2 levels to two to three times the atmospheric rate.
The increase in CO2, increases photosynthesis rate by 50% which contributes to higher yields. Some of the greenhouses burn fossil fuels for this purpose, as other CO2 sources, and from this, it contain more pollutants like sulphur dioxide and ethylene which is not good for environment and it significantly damages the plants.
Hydroponic greenhouses change the water regularly and that water contains fertilizers and pesticides which is toxic that must be disposed off.
Preparation for the future
It is estimated that by the year 2050, the population of india will be increase by 200 crore people and number of people will be increase in urban area. So the vertical farms have the potential to reduce the need of additional farm land.
Scarcity of resource
The scarcity of fertilizers like phosphorus causes a threat to industrial agriculture. The closed cycle design of vertical farm technique reduces s the loss of nutrients where as the traditional field agriculture loses nutrients to leeching and runoff.
Traditional farming often bad affects on the health of humans. Such problems like malaria, infectious diseases, schistosomes, exposure to toxic pesticides, fungicides can occur when traditional farming is practice by using large industrial farming equipment.
But vertical farming minimizes some of these problems.
Technologies and devices used in vertical farming :-
Vertical farming use various physical methods to become effective. Mixing of these technologies and devices in an integrated is important to make Vertical Farming. Various methods are used under the vertical farming.
The most common technologies are: Greenhouses, Aeroponics, Agricultural robot, Aquaponics, Hydroponics, Precision agriculture, Skyscrapers etc.