Vertical farming helps strengthen food security and combat climate change
We explain how vertical farming favors the improvement of the current agricultural system, positively affecting food and environmental problems that need a quick solution.
The global food production industry desperately needs a solution to the problems of overpopulation and maldistribution of overproduction. The challenges facing the world today, including conflicts, humanitarian emergencies, the COVID-19 pandemic and the climate crisis, greatly affect agri-food systems pushing
to 132 million people to suffer from chronic hunger by 2020.
According to the goals of the 2030 Agenda set by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), global progress towards ending poverty, hunger and responding to climate change will be achieved by are still insufficient in the area of food and agriculture.
At the same time, in some countries, the percentage of food that is lost after harvest on farms and at the transport, storage, and processing stages
amounts to 13.8% worldwide, representing more than US$400 billion per year.
One solution to this situation is vertical farming, which grows crops in vertically stacked concentric frames. This method produces more food per square meter in areas close to large populations compared to conventional agriculture, which means that vertical farming offers a solution to many of our food distribution problems. In addition, the crop can be more thoroughly controlled without depending on external weather conditions, thus exponentially reducing the losses incurred in traditional agriculture. In this blog post, we will explore the advantages of vertical farming compared to conventional farming and how it can shape the future of our food industry.
The advantages of vertical farming in the agricultural system
Today, attention is increasingly turning to vertical farming, especially with the eminent growth of urban populations. As the population grows, the need to generate more space for food supply increases. What if, instead of farming outward, we could farm upward? That is the idea behind vertical farming.
This form of cultivation emphasizes the efficient use of vertical space, allowing for higher crop yields with minimal use of resources and more exhaustive control of production and distribution by locating near large populations.
It also allows an efficient use of water, as it is not unnecessarily lost through evaporation or runoff.
In addition, in vertical farming systems such as Groots, no pesticides or other chemical inputs are used, and are generally considered more environmentally friendly than most traditional crops.
In general, the advantages of vertical farming make this form of cultivation an increasingly attractive option, especially for supply close to cities.
Main differences between traditional and vertical agriculture
One of the main differences between vertical farming and traditional farming is the optimization of space. Traditionally, farmers tend to use large tracts of land for cultivation. In comparison, vertical farming uses space more efficiently because it uses advanced spatial technologies such as hydroponics and aeroponics to maximize the yield per square meter of food grown. In this way, efficiency is gained, production is increased and costs are significantly reduced thanks to the yield of these crops.
In addition, it results in a considerable increase in harvest during the year, without depending on weather conditions or pests that are only found in outdoor cultivation. Therefore, they are less risky crops, if a crop fails it only takes weeks instead of months to get the next crop. Likewise, the quality of certain plants increases, for example, the
basil concentrates higher amounts of essential oils in vertical agriculture
intensifying its flavor.
Vertical farming systems generate a positive impact on the environment because they are designed with the objective of reducing waste and minimizing crop and natural resource wastage such as water, whose consumption can be reduced by up to 95%. This can be difficult for traditional systems that rely on intensive use of resources and where crop production cannot be monitored as closely as in the past.
leading to overproduction, often at a loss.
. In addition, as mentioned above, it should be noted that it is a type of crop that does not require pesticides or chemical fertilizers. This adds value to the care of the environment and to the care of society through the supply of healthy products.
Groots’ vision goes beyond supplying healthy products to society, we also contribute positively to society by generating social impact through employment and training for people at risk of social exclusion and developing educational initiatives that stimulate change.
What is hydroponics and aeroponics?
Compared to the traditional method of cultivation, hydroponics and aeroponics are two methods belonging to sustainable agriculture which offer advantages such as
the prevention of soil degradation caused by agricultural exploitation or the non-promotion of the use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers.
Both systems are characterized by not cultivating in soil. While hydroponics uses water as the sole medium for growing plants, aeroponics uses a combination of water and oxygen. At Groots we use hydroponics, which through the application of the best nutrients in water, we achieve an optimal growth of our plants.
In short, hydroponics and aeroponics offer sustainable alternatives to traditional agricultural methods that help reduce costs and improve quality of life.
What plants to grow in a vertical farming farm?
Considering the automation of a plant’s optimal conditions and the capacity of the farm is decisive when choosing which plants to grow. It is also essential to evaluate the yield of the crop taking into account the space it occupies and the time required for harvesting. For example, while basil grows fast, rosemary and oregano have a longer gemination process.
Since vertical farming is still in its infancy,
vertical farms are turning to a fast-harvesting crop
such as cilantro or lettuce in order to obtain short-term yields.
At Groots we grow herbs such as lamb’s lettuce, lettuce, pak choi and kale. We are also passionate about aromatic plants and that is why we grow a great variety of them such as thyme, basil, coriander, rosemary or chives.
In order to be able to supply more varieties of plants we hope to start experimenting, in the not too distant future, with the cultivation of berries, strawberries, tomatoes and other green leafy vegetables in order to be able to offer a wider variety of seedlings.
The future of growing upwards
The future of vertical farming is increasingly environmentally conscious and socially committed. It is hoped that it can help fight food poverty and at the same time combat issues such as climate change.
A gain in economic importance is also expected. It is fast becoming an important part of the agricultural industry, helping to address challenges such as the maldistribution of food overproduction, reducing environmental impact and lowering production costs. It is a system in which high performance can be obtained in a short time without the need for exhaustive use of resources. Thus contributing to the development of a greener and at the same time profitable economy.
Although there is still much work to be done, the food industry is making progress in its efforts to minimize its impact on the natural world and to ensure that problems such as food waste from overproduction are addressed.
Therefore, the future of vertical farming is quite promising and it is expected that more innovative practices and technologies will be developed in this field.