VERTICAL AGRICULTURE IN BIG CITIES
Vertical farming is the practice of producing food in vertically stacked layers, vertically inclined surfaces and or integrated in other structures. The modern idea of vertical farming uses Controlled-Environment Agriculture (CEA) technology, where all environmental factors can be controlled. These facilities utilize artificial control of light, environmental control (humidity, temperature, gases) and fustigation. Some vertical farms use techniques similar to greenhouses, where natural sunlight can be augmented with artificial lighting and metal reflectors.
Types of vertical agriculture;
- Mixed-use skyscrapers
- Despoiler’s skyscrapers
- Stackable shipping containers
Opponents question the potential profitability of vertical farming. The extra cost of lighting, heating, and powering the vertical farm may negate any of the cost benefits received by the decrease in transportation expenses. Rooftop farming is a growing urban trend, requires little construction (other than fortifying the roof to hold the weight of the growing medium), still takes advantage of sunlight and doesn’t require investment in machinery, growing lights or irrigation.
- Energy use.
During the growing season, the sun shines on a vertical surface at an extreme angle such that much less light is available to crops than when they are planted on flat land. Therefore, supplemental light would be required in order to obtain economically viable yields
Depending on the method of electricity generation used, regular greenhouse produce can create more greenhouse gases than field produce, largely due to higher energy use per kilogram of produce. With vertical farms requiring much greater energy per kilogram of produce, mainly through increased lighting, than regular greenhouses, the amount of pollution created will be much higher than that from field produce. The amount of pollution produced is dependent on how the energy used in the process is generated.
- Preparation for the future.
It is estimated that by the year 2050, close to 80% of the world’s population will live in urban areas and the total population of the world will increase by 3 billion people. A very large amount of land may be required depending on the change in yield per hectare. Scientists are concerned that this large amount of required farmland will not be available and that severe damage to the earth will be caused by the added farmland
- Increased crop production.
Unlike traditional farming in non-tropical areas, indoor farming can produce crops year-round. All-season farming multiplies the productivity of the farmed surface by a factor of 4 to 6 depending on the crop. With some crops, such as strawberries, the factor may be as high as 30.
Furthermore, as the crops would be sold in the same infrastructures in which they are grown, they will not need to be transported between production and sale, resulting in less spoilage, infestation, and energy required than conventional farming encounters.
- Protection from weather-related problems.
Because vertical plant farming provides a controlled environment, the productivity of vertical farms would be mostly independent of weather and protected from extreme weather events
- Conservation of resources.
Vertical farming would reduce the need for new farmland due to overpopulation, thus saving many natural resources, currently threatened by deforestation or pollution. Deforestation and desertification caused by agricultural encroachment on natural biomes would be avoided. Producing food indoors reduces or eliminates conventional plowing, planting, and harvesting by farm machinery, also powered by fossil fuels.
- Halting mass extinction.
Withdrawing human activity from large areas of the Earth’s land surface may be necessary to slow and eventually halt the current anthropogenic mass extinction of land animals.