Farms of the Future - Vertical Farming

Published By: IndustryARC Published On : 12-Oct-2017

Today, throughout the world, over 80% of the land that is suitable for raising crops is in use. Global population is estimated to reach 11 billion by 2050 and is thus set to challenge the agriculture system to meet the growing food requirements and control the total global Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Agricultural land covers around 35% of the total land area and also accounts for nearly 14% of the total global Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Declining arable land and agricultural labor is one of the key factors for excess use of machinery and fertilizers. In the past two decades, there has been a paradigm shift in agricultural practices with the integration of technological and managerial systems to address the challenges of farming. 

Vertical farming is an example of such a shift in the agriculture practice. It is the practice of producing food and medicine in vertically inclined surfaces, integrated in other structures such as in a skyscraper, used warehouse or a shipping container.  Indoor farming techniques and controlled-environment agriculture (CEA) technology are significantly used in vertical farming. These facilities utilize artificial control of light, environmental control and fertigation. One of the challenges with urban farming is access to sufficient affordable land.  In growing number of urban centers, people are transforming vacant commercial or industrial land into a farm owing to the various benefits. The key benefits involved are relatively cheap vegetables for the consumers, reduction of meat consumption owing to the readily available vegetables, emissions reduction, revenue from the vacant land/space and others. 

Significant number of inevitable issues from growing of crops from traditional fields can be prevented through the adoption of vertical farming. For example, the susceptibility of outdoor farms to drought and disease, and the fact the growing of the crops hundreds of miles away from where the food will eventually be consumed. Vertical farming is thus providing a realistic answer to a very pressing problem of today from both a philosophical and scientific perspective. The vertical farming market is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 20.6% during 2017-2022 globally. However, owing to the lack of awareness and availability of sophisticated agricultural technologies the market has been restricted only to developed nations with small traces of these practices in emerging economies. 

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