What is Vertical Agriculture in Narrow Area and How is it Done?
Urbanization, population growth, ongoing inefficiency in the land and decrease in agricultural areas push humanity to seek new solutions. Vertical farming methods are getting popular day by day in order to make efficient agricultural production in narrow areas. Vertical fields reaching into the sky now seem to be one of the best solutions to meet the nutritional needs of a growing population in the future. Governments and farmers around the world are turning to vertical farming methods. Thanks to the changing agricultural methods thanks to the developing technology, it is possible to plant without soil.
What is Vertical Farming?
When the calendars show the year 1999, the concept of vertical farming, first mentioned by Dickson Despommier, has been developed over the years and becomes the reality of our lives today. Vertical farming can be defined as an innovative method that is done in a closed area, without the need for sun or soil. It is possible to carry out agricultural production with special stepped structures positioned vertically, regardless of the need for a horizontal area.
In vertical agriculture, which provides more efficient production per unit area, factors such as water, light, humidity, temperature and wind are all controlled by the producers. With the developed technologies, it is ensured that the crops receive an ideal level of light, water and nutrients. From germination to sprouting, from development to harvest, every stage of agricultural cultivation is kept under control.
The vertical farming method, which allows growing safe, nutritious crops, provides higher yields with less waste. Therefore, it is of strategic importance. It is also possible to grow organic fruits and vegetables with this method. Vertical agriculture, which points to the agricultural practices of the future with its many benefits, is expected to become much more popular in an average of 20 years.
What are Vertical Farming Systems?
Vertical farming is realized with hydroponic, aquaponic and aeroponic applications. Farming in controlled environments is realized sometimes in large warehouses and sometimes in narrow shipping containers. It has been proven in academic studies that some plants grown in a controlled environment with special LED lights provide 10 times more efficiency. For this reason, vertical farming system applications are gaining momentum in many different countries of the world.
Vertical farming can be done in water. In the system, in which hydroponic soilless plant growing method is used, the roots of the crops come into contact with nitrogen, phosphorus, sulfur, potassium, calcium and magnesium solutions. Roots are supported by using substitute materials such as gravel, sand, sawdust instead of soil. In the system, where water use is much less than in soil agriculture, lettuce yield increases approximately 11 times, according to academic studies .
In the aquaponic method, fish are used. Terrestrial plant production is integrated with aquaculture, providing a double benefit. In the production system, which is one step ahead of vertical farming in water, the wastes of fish tanks are filtered and converted into nitrate. While the plants feed on these nutrients, they also consume the carbon dioxide produced by the fish. This method, which is not widely used, seems to take its place in the world of the future with the savings it provides.
It is inspired by systems developed by NASA for aeroponic farming. Your method is being worked on for farming on Mars . Details of the studies are available in the publication called Progressive Plant Growing Has Business Blooming . On the other hand, efficiency is obtained by using it in the world. In aquaculture, which does not require any solid or liquid medium, the plants hung in the air chambers are fed by fogging with a liquid solution. Aeroponic farming, the most sustainable vertical farming method, uses 90% less water than traditional hydroponic systems.
According to the article Controlled Environment Agriculture , controlled environment agriculture is often used for vertical farming. While building-based vertical farms are being dried, old farms and abandoned buildings are used. In addition, shipping containers, old mine shafts and underground tunnels can also be preferred for vertical farming. You can refer to our article for detailed information about soilless agriculture .
What Crops Are Grown in Vertical Agriculture?
Many vegetables can be produced with vertical farming, but for now, it is preferred to grow microgreens. Vertical farming systems are used especially for the production of short-length greens such as strawberry cultivation and lettuce. Crops such as mint, spinach, basil and beans can be produced by vertical farming.
What are the Advantages of Vertical Agriculture?
During production, dependence on climate is eliminated. Thus, it becomes possible to grow every crop in four seasons. You can indirectly foresee a decrease in the prices of non-seasonal vegetables.
Studies show that up to 10 more yields can be obtained with vertical farming. As the external factors are controlled, the crops can only focus on growth, thus increasing the yield.
Vertical farming uses 90% less water than traditional methods. Those who have a drought problem and are looking for a solution, you can research vertical farming practices.
Disease and pest risk is minimized in a controlled area. Stranger that problem disappears completely. This way less pesticides are used.
Under optimum conditions, plants experience less stress. Thus, the harvest time is considerably shortened. Our farmers can produce more in a year.
Since farming can be done without the use of tractors, irrigation pumps and equipment, environmental pollution is reduced.
You may notice that the labor cost is quite low.
What are the Disadvantages of Vertical Farming?
Cost is the first drawback.
In traditional agriculture, more product types can be produced. however, we can only talk about limited product varieties for vertical farming.
More energy is needed for lighting. LED lights are used instead of daylight. When the use of solar energy in agriculture becomes widespread and renewable energy sources are established, it seems that the system’s environmentally friendly feature can be mentioned.
Problems in energy systems directly affect production, energy efficiency is at a high level.
The method, which requires high technology and technical competence, is described as complex for many of our farmers.
Unemployment problem arises because vertical agriculture, which requires low labor force, will reduce employment in the field of agriculture.
Vertical farming is at the center of criticism because it interferes with natural processes such as pollination in nature.
How to Make Vertical Farming at Home?
Technically, vertical farming can be done at home, but the hydroponic version requires a very complicated and costly system setup and isolated space creation. This is why farming at home without vertical and soil still seems like a dream. However, decorative wall panels on which vertical pots are placed also allow growing ornamental plants. Vertical farming can be done with soil for fresh spice cultivation at home. Thus, small balcony gardens are prepared by making use of narrow spaces. You can grow small flowers and spices yourself by equipping a wall in your home with vertical pots.