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What is Vertical Farming?

Vertical farming is a new system which addresses many of the problems faced by crops grown outdoors. With vertical farming, crops are grown indoors in vertically stacked layers.
So far, we’ve looked at crops being grown in fields and considered ways to combat challenges such as weeds, pests, soil erosion and decreasing soil fertility. But what about crops that are grown indoors – and without using any soil at all?
Vertical farming is a new system which addresses many of the problems faced by crops grown outdoors. With vertical farming, crops are grown indoors in vertically stacked layers.

Advantages of Vertical Farming

This means the crops take up less space and can be grown in urban areas. They can also be grown in a controlled environment free from pests and weeds, with factors like temperature and light fine-tuned to optimise plant growth and taste. Vertical farming also often uses hydroponics, where crops are grown in a nutrient-rich solution instead of soil, or aeroponics, where the nutrient rich solution is formed into a mist around the roots.
Vertical Future is a pioneering London-based company which develops the technology to help other farmers around the world grow crops using vertical farming as well as growing crops for research and development purposes. Their aim is to help people grow crops in a more sustainable way to improve human health and reduce food inequality.
Although a relatively new technology, vertical farming is becoming more widespread. According to Dr Jennifer Bromley, Vertical Future’s Head of Plant Research & Development:
The practice of growing crops indoors in vertical farming systems is growing rapidly with operators around the world adopting this technology to make use of areas that would previously not have been in regular agricultural production. Between 2010 and 2016, vertical farming area went from near zero to 2.3 million square feet worldwide and the area under cultivation has been growing even more rapidly since.
In this video, Dr Bromley explains vertical farming and its benefits.

To Discuss

  • What are the advantages of vertical farming for the environment and for consumers?
  • Can you think of any limitations of the technology?
  • What kinds of crops do you think are most suitable to be grown in a vertical farm?
  • Where do you think vertical farming will go in the future? Will vertical farms become widespread, and what are the potential barriers to this?
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Improving Food Production with Agricultural Technology and Plant Biotechnology

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