Vertical Farming Ultimate Guide
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We have come up with this ultimate list of questions and a guide to find very specific information about vertical farming. You can read this as a whole or based on the specific section you are interested in.
Vertical farming is the solution for the food shortage in the world this is the question in the minds of lots of people including me. However, the concept looks strange. This method is helpful where the land is limited and resources are limited. The process of vertical farming is revolutionary in the field of agriculture. It is a sustainable method and reduces the water requirements by up to 70 percent. It also saves soil and space. This method is eco-friendly and it has made the farming process possible even in difficult environments.
Farming is a process that requires two things in excess that are light and space. Vertical farming makes sense in only those cities where people value both light and space. It is more important to put a value on vertical space. Vertical farms have to compete with office towers for that vertical space and it is difficult to manage those works economically. It is problematic inside the city but you can have too much space and sunlight outside the limits of the city.
When the price of land is high, then vertical farming is the best choice. You just have to maintain the land and start planting vertically. There are lots of methods and innovations available for vertical farming. There is no restriction of space for such types of businesses. You can even start this at home. If you want to do it on a commercial scale, then there will be a huge investment required. You will have to invest in machinery, LED lights, and necessary software for automation and monitoring of plant growth.
In vertical farming, you do everything right to keep your plants healthy and maintain their standard growth. You consider light. You are going to use fewer natural resources than traditional farming. This type of farming will yield more than traditional farming. You will get organic vegetables and fruits. These vegetables are natural and free of all sorts of pesticides and herbicides. You can harvest vegetables daily and take them to the market for sale. You are doing everything right to grow your business.
The process of producing vegetables and fruits vertically is called vertical farming. It can be done on many floors inside the building, by the use of artificial light instead of sunlight, using new technologies, and in stacked layers. There are two major reasons why this topic is much-discussed.
- There are lots of new start-up companies that are emerging in this sector, and they are attracting the investment of millions of dollars.
- Most of the people are living in cities as compared to rural areas. So it is obvious that the demand for fresh fruits in urban areas will increase so to bring the production close to the consumer makes sense.
You can add the third factor of new technologies. These technologies have made the vertical farming process profitable and cost-effective.
Why haven’t vertical farms become more widespread?
Reasons why vertical farming haven’t spread more
The idea of vertical farming is fascinating and it may inspire people. Agriculture is a key industry. One thing should be clear that no other industry used this vertical space except agriculture. When we talk about earning per square foot agriculture is at the bottom of the list. So that might be the reason vertical farming did not spread so far.
There is another issue of “taste”. You might have done everything right from start to end but the issue with these products is the taste. A local grower has invested in beautiful organic and hydroponic strawberry farm. This farm looks beautiful and attractive place where people can go and pick up their strawberries.
The fruit is just beautiful and it was prevented by soil and other bugs. Barriers are usually huge in stature. But the only issue with these fruits is they don’t have taste or flavor. I don’t know what’s the reason behind this either unbalanced nutrients or the technique they are using to grow their plants. Hydroponic berries do not grow in soil and their growth horrible chemicals are involved that can cause some serious health issues.
Another reason that vertical farming did not gain so much attraction could be money. In the present times, it is not easy for vertical farmers to compete with dirt farmers in terms of both the cost and flavor. Vertical farmers of the strawberry will charge higher prices for their product than the market value because of novelty.
Disadvantages of vertical farming
- It will increase the ratio of jobless people. As there will be no need of people for transporting crops so lots of people including the farmers can lose their job.
- The cost of pollination is high. As in this type of farming, there are no insects that can do pollination so it will have to be done manually. This will increase the labor wages because pollination will be done by hands.
- Vertical farming majorly depends on technology. So if in case it loses power even for a single day so there will be a huge loss of production.
- Maintenance of technology is key. In case of a power shortage even for a sometimes all the plants will die. Vertical farming depends totally on the artificial system. These plants require constant humidity and a temperature of 40 degrees to work.
- It can be dangerous for the environment because the electricity needed for the growing process would be generated by fossil fuels and coal.
Vertical Farming Companies
Top 24 vertical farming companies are given below:
Although this company does not mention aeroponics on their website so it is difficult to predict how they reduce water consumption by 95% as they claim. Like other vertical farming companies, plenty also produces kale and other greens and exotic herbs as well. In terms of funding, it is probably the biggest company with almost $226 million in funding.
This company took the vertical farming to a new level of productivity and precision without causing any environmental issues. They have used their own patented technology of “Aeroponics”. This process is referred to as vertical farming in a mist or air environment without the use of soil or any earth. This system will consume 95% less water.
They claim the use of zero pesticides and 95% less water consumption than traditional agriculture. The Bowery is supplying its leafy green foods to different markets and also these are available online as well, and they are generating handsome revenue.
They don’t have their website so it is difficult to predict their recent or current activities. They have started raising money early in 2013.
This company has more interest in hydroponics. They have raised almost $112 million since their startup in 2010. This company has impressive partners such as the metro market and Walmart along with the others.
This company uses the technology of robotics. In its production, it is similar to others. Although it is new so there is a chance that a lot might change.
It has raised almost $45 million since the launch in 2011. Like Bright farms, they also claim to use the hydroponic method.
This company is based in Berlin, Germany and has raised almost $35 million investment. It is not clear that what methods they are using but they claim to be using 75$ fewer fertilizers.
It has signed a contract with Emirates Airline so it means that they will supply lots of their products for the passengers of flights. It produces leafy green products and claims to use only 1% of the water of traditional agriculture.
They use aeroponics methods to grow their vegetables and fruits. Their main product is strawberries as these are very much popular in France.
The company’s website is not found yet so it is impossible to say anything about it. But according to Angel Investment, they raised almost $5 million in 2014 in the first year of startup.
This company is famous for producing LED lights. As energy consumption is 90% less as compared to incandescent lighting. So the lighting cost will be less in vertical farming and there will be more profitable. Lights supplied by this company are used in the world’s biggest vertical farms.
It provides shipping containers for indoor farming. They claim to be the manufacturer of the world’s biggest container farming technology. They are so advanced in technology that they can be controlled with the Smartphone.
This company provides water-efficient solutions for indoor cultivation. It has a long list of clients so it uses a lot of technologies. The company claims that they can grow anything anywhere, even the potatoes on Mars.
It provides hardware for vertical farming such as platforms and the lights. They claim to use water technology, but they use systems according to the requirements of clients. They also claim to be the largest manufacturer of LED lights in the world.
This company provides services for vertical farms especially in the areas of irrigation systems. They also have big-name clients such as Syngenta, Bayer, and Monsanto.
It requires a small space as the dining table or a large fish tank. They use hydroponic technology for the process.
LED lights replace the sunlight. It is one of the leading suppliers of these LED lights. This company produces a variety of products such as peppers, tomatoes, and lettuce types.
They claim to build the first vertical farm in the Middle East. They also claim to supply the herbs and micro-green to the best restaurants based in Dubai.
They also use the aeroponics system. They have integrated their farms into lots of urban spaces. It looks like a social venture instead of private. So, it is difficult to predict their earnings.
This farm uses hydroponic technology and also has a mobile app control system. It has raised almost $5 million in 2017.
Headquarter of this company is in Singapore. It uses a hydroponic method for the production process.
This is a Japanese company and almost was the first in robotics startup. It has some well-known partners. This company seems to use an artificial intelligence system. It is one of the older vertical farming companies as it was started in 2007.
It is a Scottish company. They claim to have increased the efficiency of LED lights about a further 50%. For indoor vertical farming, lighting cost is the biggest so it offers a huge plus in that sense.
So there are the top 24 vertical farming companies.
Vertical Farming Systems and Innovations
There are top 11 farming innovations that will be helpful to cover the food shortage in the future.
It is the system of growing plants without soil. It is the predominant system that is used in the process of vertical farming and it is slowly but surely gaining importance. In this system, plant roots are submerged in the nutrient’s solution. The process is monitored frequently to maintain the correct composition of chemicals in the solution of nutrients.
This innovation helps grow plants without soil and a minimum amount of water. In the vertical farming field, this innovation was made by NASA. NASA invented it in 1990 when they were looking for an efficient process for plant growth in space. It is a process of growing plants in the air or mist environment with a minimum amount of water. This system is very much efficient and consumes 90 percent less water than a hydroponic system. It has been noticed that the plants grown under this system have a maximum uptake of vitamins and minerals. So, the produced plants will be nutritious and healthier.
This eco-system promotes the farming of plants and fishes together. This innovation is somewhat similar to hydroponics, but it is slightly better. Fish and plants are in the same eco-system. Growth of fishes takes place in an indoor pond so the waste produced by fishes is rich in nutrients that act as food for plants grown in vertical farming. Plants also play their part in purifying and filtering of water and it is recycled back to a fish pond. This process is mostly used on a small scale.
Designers of this system think that green plants grow three times faster in Lokal as compared to traditional gardens. They are trying another innovation which will be to place the sensors into trays to track the status of crops. This can be done with a Smartphone. They are also interested in machine learning to collect data from the users of Lokal to check productivity. This innovation can be helpful for people to grow their food in the mini-farms.
When it comes to indoor farming this innovation is the best choice. Aeroponics system ensures:
- Environment impacts are less
- On harvesting, you will get the predicted results
- Food produced will be of high-quality
- Super quick harvesting periods
- No need of sun or soil to grow plants
This innovation of vertical farming needs:
- Smart light
- Smart nutrition
- Smart data
- Smart aeroponics
- Smart scaling
This innovation wants to grow more crops in a short space. This will bring a food revolution.
This creative solution was presented by a Swedish food company. This will allow the building of offices to feed a large number of people. The rack transport system is also developed for that is used to gradually move the boxes from ground floor to ceiling. The ceiling is a vertical greenhouse so there is no need for artificial light.
This system can provide food to approximately 5000 people. The process is completely automated so the maintenance will require high-level automation. It is a great innovation and it makes sure that they maintain the cost of transport, energy, emissions, and water very low.
It is also another sustainable farming technique and it is for urban areas. The purpose of designing this technology is to naturally grow food in the environment of urban areas. It provides twenty times more yield than standard field crops and only consumes 8% water for soil farming. It has been designed so beautifully that it is equally effective for both the open and closed-loop environments. They don’t use any harmful pesticides so the food produced is full of nutrition.
This innovation is helpful in the production of fresh plants anywhere in the world. This is an indoor system that produces healthy plants in any environment. The main feature of this system is you can extend the functionality of modular farms according to your agricultural needs.
Cubic Farming System
It is the next-generation system of sustainable farming. The functionality of this system is based on:
- Conveyor rotation method
- LED lighting
- An automated system for the delivery of nutrients
This technology is also sustainable and consumes less amount of water as compared to traditional farming. This technology can help you to eliminate the risk of farming as it helps you to get standardized output by controlling inputs.
It is another system for vertical farming that is used by modern farmers. It is an ideal choice for those farmers who don’t have the experience and required tools for the hydroponic farming business. This technology has revolutionized the vertical farming system because it provides the
- High Technology workflow
- Growing technology of a vertical plane
- System controls
It works in such a way that it can help unlimited farmers globally.
This is the most sophisticated and commercial indoor farm. Its advanced technology will help you to produce 30 times more than a traditional farm. It can produce more than 100 kinds of leafy greens. This will help to grow plants without the use of pesticides. This technology is designed in such a way that it will collect data during their growing process and provides them purified water, the exact amount of light, and the nutrients accordingly.
These are the best innovations that have made vertical farming mush easier and quicker than before.
How to start vertical farming?
A technique of growing plants in rows and columns by utilizing minimum space is called Vertical farming. People who are interested in this can start their business in a small area. You can start this business at any place. If you want to start a business on a large scale, then you would need proper software, architects, and LEDs. This article will tell you how to start a vertical farming business, and what are the available methods?
Vertical farming will be feasible only there is a planned and proper interior work it is a must for irrigation purposes. A specialist person with gardening experience is required for this purpose. So you can earn from vertical farming by doing the job as a vertical farming architect.
If you are not using the hydroponic method then LED is a much-needed component for plant growth in vertical farming. So the persons who have their own LED business can start vertical farming as well.
Sometimes special software is used to monitor the plant growth and quality of food. Special software professionals will install this software in the place of farming. Due to the demand for software, it can also be added to the opportunities for vertical farming.
Basic requirements to start vertical farming
It is done in vertical form instead of the horizontal form so it is called vertical farming. The basic requirement for such farming will be different for different-sized businesses.
- In the vertical farming size of space or area utilized does not matter a lot. It can be done on even a small terrace or rooftop.
- If you want to start a small business, then it will require only small items but if you want to do on a large scale, then it would require high-tech machines to start the farming process.
- When we talk about a small business it means you can start this at your home. At home what you need is just a vertical plane so that you can start planting. You can fit these planes with small containers or tubs.
- These containers or tubs are filled with gravel, liquid, or sand. If you want cost reduction, then you can use a water bottle instead of a container. The thing you want to get is healthy and nutritious foods and vegetables from these plants.
- In this technique, you may need a minimum or no use of soil. With the elimination of soil, this method can easily facilitate vertical farming at home.
- If you want to do at high levels, then it will require a high cost for equipment and more investment in the setup. Costs will be on the higher side because of the installation of high-quality containers and tubes.
Large businesses can never be maintained by a single individual. Such set-ups will require labor and you will have to bear labor costs as well. Labor quantity depends on the size of the business. For a large scale, the vertical farming business would have to employ a computerized system.
Summary points of requirements for vertical farming at home
- Land selection either terrace or rooftop for the installation of small setups
- For planting purpose water bottles or containers
- Proper methods for irrigation
- Good and sufficient light source for plant growth
- Regular monitoring o ensure the growth rate
Summary points of requirements for vertical farming at the industrial scale
- Large land area
- For growth monitoring software programs
- A workforce which can help to maintain the entire set up
- Architects will be needed for efficient layout design so that set up can generate maximum profit
- Materials will be needed for construction of a farm
- There will be systems of climate control in the industry
- For better growth of plants narrow LED lights will be required.
All these are the basic requirements for vertical farming, but these can vary according to the size of the setup and way of establishment.
Seasons that favors the vertical farming
There is no restriction of a season to start a vertical farming business. There are varieties of plants that can be grown using this technique. It does not matter whether it a sunny day or a breezy day, vertical farming will not be influenced by them.
Processes for vertical farming
When you are going to start a business of vertical farming the processes will vary according to the method adopted. If someone is interested in starting a business on a commercial scale, he must know different methods that are needed for the vertical farming process. Methods that are used for vertical farming are given below:
Aeroponics: In this method of farming spraying of mist is done on the roots of plants.
Hydroponics: Liquid rich in nutrient is used in this type of farming method
Aquaponics: in this method fishes are used for the farming process.
How vertical farming can help to enhance profits?
You can easily enhance profits by adopting a few things.
- Make use of aeroponics, it will reduce consumption of water
- For standard growth set up control systems for temperature
- A perfect layout made by an architect can earn you a lot
- To avoid work stoppage due to repairs there should be a maintenance system
- For greater productivity, you can combine hydroponics and aeroponics
- You can install multiple units in a single package to cut down packaging cost up to some extent
- Make use of economical methods that consume minimum resources.
Vertical farming can change our thoughts and views that we have regarding farming. It is different from traditional farming. As the awareness among the people is increasing the vertical farmers are also increasing. There are innovations in the field of vertical farming that are more profitable than traditional farming. It has shown some great success in recent years so investors can invest in this farming method without any risk of loss. So vertical farming is making their mark, especially in urban areas.
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