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Vertical Farming

Posted On : June 15, 2021

What is Vertical Farming?

Vertical farming is that the growing plant in vertically stacked layers. In this vertical farming practice can use soil, hydroponic or aeroponic growing methods. Vertical farms plan to produce food in challenging environments like where arable land is rare or unavailable. the tactic helps mountainside towns and deserts and cities grow differing types of fruits and vegetables by using skyscraper like designs and precision agriculture methods.

Most vertical farms use enclosed structures almost like greenhouses that stack vertically, either directly above one another or staggered for better natural light exposure. If saving space is of most importance, hydroponic methods as a growing medium rather than soil leave reduced weight and lower water requirements by up to 70%. the utilization of aeroponics further reduces weight and water requirements. Most vertical farms are either hydroponic or aeroponic and don't have escape , which might make the potted plants heavier.

Vertical farming typically uses a mixture of natural light and artificial light. Artificial lighting is usually LED-based and should be driven by a renewable power source like solar energy or wind turbines.

Supporters of vertical farming praise the impact it can have now and within the future to extend food security and have a positive impact on human health. it might reduce the quantity of farmland needed, which could decrease deforestation and pollution, and help urban areas be self-sufficient.

Critics of vertical farming claim that the majority designs don’t efficiently deliver the required artificial light to stay the planning green. Many vertical farms have hefty electric bills to supply good yields. Furthermore, the need for vertical farming is disputed as critics argue that the matter isn't a scarcity of farmable land but inefficient usage.

Types of vertical farming

There are three sorts of vertical farming systems i.e. Despommier Skyscrapers, Mixed Use Skyscrapers and Stackable Shipping Containers. additionally to those , there are three processes usually adopted within the vertical farming systems viz., 1) Hydroponics, 2) Aeroponics and 3) Aquaponics the small print of the above types and processes are discussed within the below sub-sections.

Despommier Skyscrapers:

Dickson Despommier, a microbiologist at Columbia University believes that traditional farm practices, which are already using 41% of the planet’s land, won't be ready to support the food requirements of the exponentially increasing population. So, he envisions skyscrapers where crops are often grown in vertically stacked shelves, mass produced within closed and controlled environments that aren't influenced by the external climate. As a result, these skyscrapers are often built anywhere no matter any agronomic constraint. on the school of thoughts claims that vertical farming requires less energy and causes less pollution than some those of traditional farming practices because vertical farms are often integrated with renewable energy technology.

Solar panels, wind turbines and hydroelectric power are often used respectively or together with each other to satisfy energy requirements of those structures. Vertical farming features a scope to form huge employment opportunities as local inhabitants can add these vertical farms to make a living.

Mixed Use Skyscrapers:

These sort of skyscrapers is that the brainchild of architect Ken Yeang These skyscrapers integrate traditional agricultural activities with vertical farming concept. rather than growing crops in completely controlled and closed environment, in these skyscrapers, crops are grown in natural sunlight like top floors of an office block that receive the foremost sunlight. The advantage of Mixed Use Skyscrapers over Despommier Skyscrapers is that they require less initial investment compared to Despommier Skyscrapers, which needs the whole environment.

within the building to be controlled and monitored consistent with the crop’s requirements.

Stackable Shipping Containers:

In this method of vertical farming uses shipping containers to grow leafy green vegetables and gourmet mushrooms and strawberries. These stacked recycled shipping containers are often utilized in urban settings. Companies like Freight Farms and Podponics are using shipping containers fitted with hydroponic components, LED lighting, heating and ventilation systems for climate control, and sensors to watch the condition inside the containers.

How Vertical Farming Works

The main four important areas to understanding how vertical farming works: 1. Physical layout, 2. Lighting, 3. Growing medium, and 4. Sustainability features.

The first goal of vertical farming is producing more foods per square metre . To compete this vertical farming crops are cultivated in stacked layers during a tower like structure. Secondly, an ideal combination of natural and artificial lights is employed to take care of the right light level within the room. Technologies like rotating beds are wont to improve lighting efficiency.

Thirdly, rather than soil, aeroponic, aquaponic or hydroponic growing mediums are used. sphagnum or coconut husks and similar non-soil mediums are quite common in vertical farming. The vertical farming

Processes used in Vertical Farming


Hydroponics is that the predominant growing system utilized in vertical farms. during this system, plants are grown in nutrient solutions, freed from soil. The plant roots are grown within the nutrient solution contained during a grow tray such the roots are submerged within the solution. The grow tray is crammed with a nutrient solution few times each day by employing a reservoir below the tray, a pump , and a timer.

The timer is about supported the parameters like the dimensions of the plants, the water and nutrient requirements of the plants, the expansion cycle of the plants also because the air temperature. supported the time set by the timer, the grow tray is crammed with the nutrient solution until it's flooded using the pump .

After the tray is flooded, thanks to gravity , the surplus solution is drained back to the reservoir where it sits until subsequent flood cycle .The essential nutrients utilized in a hydroponics system are nitrate , potassium sulphate, saltpeter , mono potassium phosphate, and magnesium sulphate. Micronutrients used include chlorine, nickel,boron,copper, iron, manganese, silicon ,sodium, zinc, cobalt and molybdenum.


In an Aeroponic system, plants are grown in an environment where air with little or no water or mist and without soil are used. during this system, the plant roots are suspended in air. So, the basis s are nourished by misting the root zones with a nutrient solution on a continuing basis by employing a fine sprayer to make sure that the roots get sufficient oxygen .

This technique is that the most effective vertical farming system, because it uses 90% lesser water than the foremost efficient hydroponic systems and it's been observed that plants grow quicker than in other sorts of hydroponic systems. Moreover, the fertilizer usage is reduced by 60%, while the crop yields increases by 45 to 75% . The Plants grown in these Aeroponic systems have also been shown to uptake more concentrations of minerals and vitamins, making the plants healthier and potentially more nutritious


It combines aquaculture (raising of fish in tanks or ponds) and hydroponics within the same ecosystem. Fish grown in fish tanks, produce waste that are high in nutrient content, which may be used as nutrient suppliant to grow the plants during a grow tray. The plants on the opposite hand naturally filter the water during which the fish live. The water from the aquarium , which is rich in ammonia, is circulated to the grow tray. There nitrifying bacteria, which thrives within the growth bed where the plants are growing, convert the ammonia first to nitrites, then to nitrates and eventually the solids are converted to vermi compost, which may be employed by the plants as bio fertilizer. This water, which has all the wastes decomposed and spent by the plants as nutrients, is recycled back to the aquarium . the main advantage of an aquaponics system is that it's to be carefully monitored for the primary month, but once the system is established, only pH and ammonia levels need to be monitored hebdomadally.

Advantages of vertical farming (compared to field grown)

  • Year-round season to satisfy consumer demands for otherwise off-season produce
  • higher yields per unit of floor space
  • Granular control over growing conditions
  • more active development environment for supporting technologies and future cost reductions are very likely
  • Shorter supply chain sometimes, but not always) may increase effective time period , especially for baby/micro greens
  • Pesticide-free product for completely enclosed systems

Disadvantages of vertical farming (compared to field grown)

  • Needs high capital costs and especially in higher-priced urban area
  • more energy needed for lighting, climate control, and motors. Technological improvements and it will improve this, but heating/cooling in extreme environments should be costly
  • Very small size of the world means producers are subject to lower-priced competition. Differentiation is vital .


Vertical farming technologies are still relatively new. Companies are yet to successfully produce crops at scale and make it economically feasible to satisfy the growing food demand. The performance of farms like AeroFarms will determine how important a task vertical farming will play within the future to face the challenge of growing food demand.

It is worth noting, however, that technologies developed for vertical farms also are being adopted by other segments of the indoor farming sector, like greenhouses, which may utilize natural sunlight, albeit requiring far more land and longer routes to plug .

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