An Introduction To Vertical Farming

Drive just outside any city and before long you will most likely find yourself in the midst of sprawling fields filled with a variety of different crops. These idealic country settings are typically what come to mind when you think about farming. In fact, the vast majority of plant-based food is grown on traditional farms using time-honored farming methods.
However, there are some problems with traditional farming. For one thing, it is limited by the amount of space that there is for planting crops. The size of the field where the crops will be grown determines exactly how much you can grow. This can limit the overall output of a farm, making it difficult to expand and produce more food.
Another problem with traditional farming is that crops are exposed to a variety of different threats. Inclement weather, disease, and pests can destroy an entire field of food in a matter of minutes, taking any potential profits for the farmer along with it. Unfortunately, there is little that can be done to combat these threats. In most cases, farmers are really at the mercy of Mother Nature.
These days, however, there is a shift underway in how food is grown. More and more farmers are turning toward vertical farming rather than using traditional farming methods. As you might guess, this involves growing crops in containers that are stacked in vertical layers rather than in a typical field.



Vertical Farming vs Traditional Farming

This type of farming offers quite a few benefits over regular farming methods. For one thing, it allows farmers to make the most of the space that they have available. They can grow many times the number of plants in the same amount of space by adding vertical layers rather than just relying on horizontal space. In essence, this type of farming makes it possible to fit multiple rows of plants in the same space that it would have taken to grow a single row of plants in the past.


Photo credit: Cjacobs627


Controlled Environment

In most cases, vertical farming is done indoors in a controlled environment. The growing facilities are set up with artificial light sources that mimic direct sunlight. Other environmental factors in the room such as humidity and temperature are also tightly controlled. The plants themselves may be grown with or without soil, depending on whether the farmer is using traditional growing methods or relying on newer techniques such as hydroponics.



Having this much control over the environmental factors helps eliminate many of the risks associated with traditional farming. For instance, you don’t have to worry about a hailstorm or drought affecting crops. Instead, the plants are always in the ideal growing environment. This can help ensure that every seed that is planted turns into a viable plant that can be taken to market, making this type of farming far more profitable and effective than other methods.
Additionally, growing the plants indoors also helps keep pests at bay without the need for potentially harmful pesticides. Instead, the control that vertical farming offers over the environment makes it easy to keep insects and rodents from destroying the crops. Again, this can result in more viable plants making it to market after each growing period.

Ideal for Growing Year-Round

Another benefit of this type of farming is that it can be done year-round. Typically, farmers can only grow crops during the spring, summer, and autumn months, depending on what part of the country they live in. This can limit the amount of food that they can produce. By growing crops in a controlled environment, on the other hand, they can keep the temperature ideal for growing year-round, allowing them to produce crops continuously.
This type of farming is becoming more and more prevalent as demand for food rises. Being able to grow large quantities of food in a small space without the risk of pests, disease, or weather destroying the harvest make sense on a number of different levels.
While there will always be a place for traditional farming in the world, vertical farming is an exciting advancement toward the future. It could provide a way to efficiently feed the growing number of people on Earth, helping to solve potential food shortages that may arise as the population continues to grow. Additionally, this type of farming also makes it possible to grow food in extremely harsh environments, making it an ideal way to bring nutrition to areas of the world where farming has previously been difficult or impossible.