Are Vertical Farms the Way Of the Future?

Vegetables and herbs found in standing trays, in highly controlled environments, such as abandoned buildings or used warehouses, where there is absolutely no sunlight and earth, only LED lamps, a small amount of water and a little science.

Vertical farming is far from traditional, where crops are grown on large farms or in greenhouses. All this is to take advantage of vertical space and increase productivity. Vertical agriculture consumes 40% less electricity, 95% less water and can produce crops for up to 30 days.


What is good about Vertical agriculture?


Vertical agriculture comes with a long list of benefits, and goes beyond the usual “zero light and soil.”


First, any other seasonal crop. These modern farms have traditionally been able to produce seasonal fruits and vegetables throughout the year. There will be no “bad weather” since the crops can be grown in a facility where environmental factors are completely controlled. In addition, post-harvest defects and food waste will be minor, since most products can be sold in the same building where they are grown. According to estimates, around 30 to 30% of the crop is lost every year due to poor harvests.


Second, vertical fields are affected by the weather. Because crops are safe and stable in a highly controlled environment, all erosion will not be affected by extreme weather events such as hurricanes, droughts or floods, unlike outdoor agriculture.

Third, they use less water. Vertical farms use less water than common farms. The methods used are hydroponic, where plants are grown in nutrient-rich water basins, or aeroponics, where the roots of the crop are sprayed with nutrient-rich water or mist. Both methods use much less water, since all water is collected directly through plants; There is no waste as a result of the spread of water in the soil. Plants need the right amount of water is the right amount to use. Vertical agriculture also promotes water recycling. Urban water wastes, which also contain black water, can be composted and used for cultivation within the facility.


Finally, vertical fields can produce twice as fast production. This is the main reason why some countries face the ideal solution to the food crisis. The world population is expected to reach 10.5 billion by 2050. This means that to meet demand, we have to increase our food supply by at least 60%. To make this possible, food, a food preparation system that requires less water consumption, less resources and less space. Vertical agriculture accommodates these boxes. This method can produce more plants per square meter than outdoor fields or greenhouses, as crops can be kept taller than the building or facility.


In general, there is no doubt about what vertical farms can do. Today, many lawyers and agricultural analysts are analyzing the enormous potential of this innovative method, and there are many examples of how it works really well.


General farms around the world:


Sky Greens was the world’s first low-carbon vertical and hydraulic motor farm.


Located in Singapore, a small island city with a population of more than 5 million that depends heavily on food imports from other countries, the farm has plants that grow in aluminum-sized towers. Sky Greens has called its technology “A-Go-Gro”. Each tower is 22-26 degrees, rotated at a speed of 1 mm / sec for an equitable distribution of natural sunlight and air flow. Sky Greens is capable of growing 800 kg of cabbage, kai lan, spinach and other green leafy vegetables every day. She has been producing these crops commercially since 2012.


Located in Japan, one of the world’s largest indoor vertical farms, founded by Mirage Corporation, founded by plant physiologist Shihagara Shimura. Equipped with 25,500 square feet of bacteria and pesticide-free space, with up to 17,500 LED lights, the farm can grow up to 10,000 liters per day.


For crops other than lettuce, Shimura explained: “I am sure, at least technically, that we can produce almost any type of plant in a factory. But what makes more economic sense is to produce fast-growing vegetables that can be sent to the market more fast, that means leafy vegetables for us now, although in the future, we want to expand a wide variety of products. “Currently, Mirai has two additional factories in Mongolia. He plans to expand to Russia and Hong Kong in the near future.

The United States also hosts several vertical farms. The largest company can be found in New Jersey, run by the leading firm Aerofarms. Its world headquarters in Newark (and the Ninth Farm) is a 69,000-square-foot indoor farm that can grow 2 million pounds of green leaves and herbs a year. It is currently the largest indoor vertical farm in the world.


By 2018, Aerofarms is expected to build its tenth farm in Camden. It will have 78,000 square feet of space and provide production to Philadelphia and southern Jersey.


Meanwhile, a 900 square meter vertical farm is currently being built in the city of Dronten in the Netherlands. When it is finished later this year, it will be the largest commercial vertical farm in Europe. Fruit and vegetable supplier Stylish Food Group also participated in the development of Dronten’s facilities with Philips, a world leader in lighting that will provide these facilities in the light of green LED gardening.


General Agriculture in Australia:


Unlike Asia and the United States, Australia does not have many commercial vertical farms. We have a private facility located in Queensland: Vertical Farm System. The company produces green leaf products, such as spinach and arugula, and has developed its own cultivation system, the XA Series, which allows buyers and vegetables and herbs to grow commercially in Malaysia and Canada. It is offered to the people they want.



Although it was able to successfully enter the commercial market, Vertical Farm Systems believes that it will be difficult for Australia to promote vertical farming on a commercial scale. This is not only because we have enough space available to grow what farmers need to grow (countries like Singapore and Japan face the problem), but the main reason for this is the valuable assets of our country. It is unacceptable. The prices of retail products may be higher as a result of our higher property rates.



“At the end of the day, the market will buy the cheapest food available in the market, and you can’t get a premium for lettuce just because it was grown on a vertical farm,” said Ashley, managing director of Vertical Farm Systems. Thomson, identified. “A lettuce is a lettuce and sits at the table and people do not care if it is hydroconic, paddock or raised vertically, they ask: ‘How much does it cost?'”

However, Chris Wilkins of Pod Plants, a Sydney-based vertical crop company, believes that vertical farming still has a place in Australia because it can help produce the best quality vegetables.



“Consumers here share the same concerns about food security and sustainability, which has made this process so popular in the United States and parts of Asia,” said Wilkins. Australian cities are not that different: people only care where their food comes from and where it comes from. The food they know has a local price.


Pod plants produce portable and lightweight vertical gardens. In 2014, Unique Technology won the Australian Innovation Challenge.


As you can see, vertical farming has many benefits and there is a bright future ahead. But, when it comes to trends, not everything is rainbows and butterflies. This modern method of growing food still comes with some ingredients.


Why not be so good with Vertical agriculture?


One is that it requires a lot of energy. Vertical agriculture does not use natural sunlight to grow plants, it uses artificial light that requires a lot of energy. According to a report, the execution of the LEDs needed to produce 2.25 pounds of crop will require 1,200 kWh of electricity.


In addition, vertical farms cannot provide all kinds of vegetables. Usually, they can only produce green leafy vegetables, herbs and tomatoes as they grow rapidly. Other crops, such as potatoes, wheat and rice, have no place in these fields because they are overweight and require a large area to grow.


Another disadvantage is that vegetables grown on these vertical farms are (currently) more expensive than those traditionally grown. The reason for this is that they require high installation costs, with the need for lighting, technology and experienced “producers”. Take as an example the production of Sky Green. A 200 gram package of Sky Greens Bok Choy costs $ 1.25, while a 250 gram bag of Bok Choy in Singapore costs only 80 cents.


Given these factors, it is clear that vertical agriculture is still pending and that development and market tests are needed to get a clear idea of how it can be commercially viable in other dense areas and how this can lead to different production of different crops? Ordinary lettuce and tomato. We also have to say that before we have too many companies to succeed, before saying that it will completely change the way we eat at our table. At this time, vertical agriculture cannot feed the world STILL. But with its long list of benefits and its enormous potential, there is no doubt that this could be the future of agriculture.