Is vertical farming the future of agriculture?
Today’s Video of the Day comes courtesy of the American Chemical Society’s Reactions series and features an in-depth look at the future of agriculture. A new trend called vertical farming may soon completely revolutionize traditional methods of growing plants and crops.
Historically, humans learned to farm by arranging plants in long, horizontal fields with irrigation systems. But now, new technology allows for crop fields to be stacked vertically indoors, not unlike how multi-level apartment buildings were created to accommodate larger populations in urban areas.
Growing plants in a tower structure allows for significantly increased efficiency and removes the unpredictability factor of weather. The potentially devastating effects of drought, smog, and flooding are taken out of the the equation. It also prevents dangerous runoff of fertilizer and pesticide from entering into the surrounding environment.
One method of indoor vertical farming is called hydroponics, where plants sit without dirt in nutrient-filled water. This method actually substantially reduces total water use. Another option is called aeroponics, where the roots of plants are sprayed by a mist of nutrient-filled water. This method uses even less water than hydroponics.
While indoor vertical farming allows for water to be saved, it still requires a substantial amount of energy to provide proper lighting and climate control. Air circulation, sensors, and water pumps all require electricity, and the cost of lighting in some instances makes vertical farming much more costly than the traditional horizontal method.
Several agricultural companies, such as AeroFarms and Growing Underground, have already invested in vertical farming. While it is still more expensive than traditional farming, its environmental benefits may allow the growing trend to continue to bloom.
By Rory Arnold, Earth.com Staff Writer
Source: American Chemical Society