Vertical farming is a new and advanced way of growing crops. In today’s time and the world, developed methods and technical ways of production are an essential need.
The knowledge required to set up such technology-based systems forms the basis for advancement and progress. Sustainable and judicious ways that are benefitting are the ones that will make it to the coming future.
With developments in several domains and the introduction of advanced methods for better facilitation, primarily essential sectors must also be a part of such progress.
Agriculture is one of the necessities of livelihood and techniques like Vertical Farming help to keep this field of production in pace with the rest of the world.
This advanced manner of urban agriculture has been adopted by many nations to grow and develop in cultivation. India is one of the several countries to have introduced this modern and technology-based agricultural system.
To work with such advancing technology, knowledge, and skills are key factors. It is always better to have enough research before using resources. It is best to learn all about Vertical farms and their efficiencies before putting such hi-fi systems in use.
What is Vertical Farming?
Vertical farming is a modern way of agriculture in which crops are grown in a controlled environment setting. Crops are planted in arrangements of verticals rows and columns which are stacked on top of each other forming a structure similar to those of buildings or skyscrapers. This is usually carried out indoors, for example, in greenhouses or factory buildings specified for this purpose.
It is a method of controlled-environment agriculture where plants are grown in conditions they require that are provided and controlled by man and machines.
Several techniques such as – Aquaponics, Hydroponics and Aeroponics are used to facilitate the growth of crops in a Vertical farm. With the utilization of these advanced methods of urban agriculture, crops produce higher yields, better quality food, quicker harvests, and these methods are also environmentally friendly.
Vertical Farming in India
Vertical farming in India is still a very new venture and there still aren’t a lot of institutions in this field in our country. Traditional methods of farming continue to be the most used systems in agriculture.
There are only a handful of places which have introduced this system of farming in India. The Bidhan Chandra Krishi Viswavidyalaya, in Nadia, West Bengal, has conducted various researches and experiments to test the feasibility of vertical farming in India.
Centers in West Bengal’s Nadia have tried out various setups to grow vegetables like eggplants and tomatoes. Their initial endeavors using the hydroponic technique of vertical farming have proved to be useful.
Small-scale vertical farms are also set up in Punjab. These ways of growing crops without a soil medium and lesser pesticides need a lot of research and experimenting. The industries undertaking vertical farming methods have successfully grown potatoes in these farms as well.
The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) has been researching and formulating ways of opening more opportunities to bring up agriculture in the nation using this new and advanced technological system in metropolitan cities like – Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai and Bangalore.
Where to learn about Vertical farming in India?
Lots of firms and companies in India have come up with incentives to provide to growers interested in Vertical farms. Various startups have also been set up to develop this farming technique in the country.
Some of such firms are listed below:
– Ideafarms is a design-in-tech firm in India that provides consulting and is a leading advisory body. This institution produces organic and high-quality food using Vertical farming methods.
– Another startup based in India which uses Vertical farming is a Mumbai based firm. U-Farm technology is a successful industry that makes use of Hydroponic systems to cultivate crops.
This firm is trying to build upon its technologies and has seen positive progress in its ventures to customize its modular farms.
– CityGreens is another such center that aims at developing Vertical farms in India. This company has its centers in Bangalore and Ahmedabad and aims at producing food using Vertical farming methods without the use of artificial lights and LEDs.
It is a rather sunlight reliant firm that uses various other technologies to support its plants. This firm is another competent grower in the commercial agricultural sector.
– A startup set in Bangalore aids and assists growers all around the country with smart and automated kits that can be beneficial to Vertical farms.
This firm is called – ‘Greenopiais’ and are known for their self-watering pots that send out senses whenever a plant needs to be watered.
– The Jaipur based farming company named – The Living Greens, is another such firm which focuses on farming related techniques like – Organic farming, Rooftop farming, etc.
– FutureFarms is a Chennai based industry that focuses on using hydroponic systems for commercial farming.
– One of such companies is also set in Goa. Letcetra Agritech is also a great place to derive your information from about vertical farms in India and their working.
These firms can be contacted for further information related to vertical farms in India. With the proper amount of research and good networks in this industry, you can very well derive all the necessary knowledge and experience that you are looking for in this field of advanced and mechanized agriculture in the growing nation.
Advantages of Vertical Farming
This modern technique of agriculture is a truly brilliant one. It comes with numerous benefits that assist various domains such as – producers, consumers, markets, cultivation, environment, etc. Some of the advantages of vertical farming are listed below:
1. Growing crops using this method including Hydroponics has been very successful and profitable. It has been observed that hydroponics produces crops about 30 – 50 percent quicker than traditional methods. All the controlled environmental settings facilitate healthy and rapid crop growth and maturation.
2. As vertical farms grow crops stacked one on top on another in the structural arrangement similar to buildings, less space is utilized efficiently.
Regular farms that use soil as a medium to grow crops can grow comparatively lesser quantities of crops in a field when growing horizontally in the soil. Thus using vertical farming systems also increases production per square unit of space.
3. As crops are grown in an indoor setting, they are provided with artificial light for growth using sources like UV lights, LEDs, etc.
This means that growers also have an upper hand over the period that the plants have exposure to light. The crops are usually given light for longer than daylight duration and this aids the process of photosynthesis to go on for longer. Therefore, the plants produce more food in lesser amounts of time leading to greater and rapid yields for commercialization.
4. Vertical farms use techniques like hydroculture, hydroponics, and aquaponics. Aeroponics, etc. These methods are done in indoor situations like in greenhouses and other factories or buildings.
The environmental situations are totally under manual regulation and can be adjusted according to the needs of plant preferences.
Nutrients, light, temperature, moisture, and other factors are manipulated and regulated as per plant needs and this creates a better condition for their growth with all the necessities in the right amount. With situations under total control, year-round crop production can be done even with seasonal crops.
5. Due to the indoor cultivation of crops, physical hindrances do not affect plant growth. Factors like harsh weather, floods, droughts, weeds, pest infestations, fungal or microbial diseases that spread through soil, etc. are avoided.
This leads to a comfortable growth environment for the crops facilitating good-quality products. The plants are less prone to destruction or damage.
6. As the crops are grown in Vertical farms are at lesser risks of being infested on by pests or fungus, they do not have to be provided with pesticides as much as the crops that grow outdoors in the soil.
In addition to that, as all the requirements are efficiently provided by the growers, the plants grow comparatively well and do not need too much of chemical fertilizers as well.
Thus the food produced is a lot more organic, clean, fresh and free from chemicals when compared to food grown through traditional farming methods.
7. Growing crops through vertical farming in an indoor building or greenhouse does not rely upon the availability of fertile land resources.
Areas that do not make proper soil ability for plant growth can easily do so by setting up vertical farms instead. This makes a place more self-reliant and reduces import costs involved in importing food from other places.
8. As vertical farming usually makes us of soilless media for growing crops, naturally occurring lands do not have to be cleared for agricultural purposes.
Forests and natural habitats are less affected. The land resources in nature are conserved and it also saves the animal and plants life surviving in forests. Therefore, making a huge contribution to saving the environment.
9. Along with saving land resources, techniques that are used in vertical farms also efficiently use water resources.
Hydroponic techniques make use of only 10 percent of the water that regular farms require for irrigating their plants.
Also, the water that is used in these farms is continuously recycled and reused to make sure that less water is wasted and this conserves water in the environment.
10. Vertical farms also make further processing more cost-efficient. As these farms can be located anywhere and do not depend on the availability of fertile land locations, the farms can be set up close to market regions.
This helps in reducing the cost involved in transportation. As transportation is comparatively minimal, it saves fuel and also decreases carbon footprint in the environment.
11. With the use of modern technology, automated systems, and electricity depended machinery, manual labor is also less.
Tasks like plowing, tilling the fields, picking of weeds, etc. which are carried out by the man in traditional farming methods are eliminated in the method of growing crops through vertical farming. It makes the process time-efficient, less labor-intensive, and also reduced the cost of labor.
12. The method of growing crops without the use of soil is very efficient and has been also adopted by NASA to experiment agriculture in the space to provide food to astronauts. Hydroponics and aeroponics are of great help when it comes to such tasks.
Disadvantages of Vertical Farming
Along with the several listed benefits, this method of farming also has the following downsides:
1. All the methods involved in Vertical farming are highly dependent on electricity sources. System failures in machines, inefficient power supply, cost of energy provisions, etc. are big problems for these firms. Hindrances in electric supply can hamper the production process and often lead to large-scale damage.
2. With the requirement of constant sources of electricity, Vertical farms make use of a great number of fossil fuels to derive energy. Over-exploitation of fossil fuels is inefficient and there must be alternatives that can be used to replace these natural and exhaustible resources.
3. With greater and advanced technology, comes the need for higher knowledge, research, and skills to carry out such technical and developed systems. Skilled men are also essential to carry out these processes.
4. The residues and wastes produced by vertical farms often contribute to a great deal of environmental pollution.
5. Setting up a vertical farm is not an easy task. It requires a lot of capital and is rather a risky investment in the initial period. Maintenance and proper running of the systems are all in all an expensive venture.
6. With the introduction of advanced and automated urban agricultural methods, rural and dependent traditional farmers face lots of competition. Labor is also decreased leading to the unemployment of many workers.
Well, with all the above-listed advantages and disadvantages, it is clear that the benefits of vertical farms outnumber the flaws of it. The challenges that accompany this endeavor can be well handled with just the right amount of educational, technical, and financial support.
With all the goods of this technique, it is a recommended way of agriculture which is sustainable and in pace with the growing world. With all the right factors, Vertical farming is a profitable investment and one in line with the future of agriculture in the world.