Vertical Farming May Be the Future of Food Production

Possible climate change, lack of water, urban sprawl and uncontrolled population growth has led many regions of the world to become increasingly vulnerable to food shortages. Because of this, it is extremely urgent to develop research and infrastructure solutions like vertical farming that enable a more rational use of natural resources from more productive land available for food production. The so-called vertical farming is one of the options to maximize agricultural output. It can be generated by artificial lighting from solar cells and hydroponics andĀ aeroponics. This method can grow large amounts of food in tall buildings in big cities, which makes cities ideal places to meet the challenge of feeding the growing population of the century.

In addition to the use of space, where they literally stack crop vertically, vertical farming also represents a number of environmental advantages such as: water savings, as it only requires 5% of the commonly used amount in traditional method for crop, without the use of herbicides and reducing carbon dioxide emissions from transport, to show that food can be produced inside the city. An interesting project that attempts to maximize the advantages of vertical farming is called Pyramid Farm designed by professors at Columbia University, Eric Ellingsen and Dickson Despommier. The design is based on the idea that vertical farms, which will become a reality in the not too distant future, can be one of the most important solutions to the food supply.

Despommier, creator of the concept of vertical farming in the nineties, considered developing new alternatives to farming techniques as millions of people around the world may lack food and even suffer due to hunger by 2060. Pyramid Farm offers a solution that re-arranges self-ecosystem and is also capable of producing fish and poultry, which ranges from food production to the reuse of organic waste. For over 6 years Professor Despommier has worked with students to develop this type of environmental projects, proposing the construction of buildings made from solar panels on the roof, in order to generate large greenhouses that can be placed anywhere, occupying little space.

Pyramid Farm based on vertical farming project will include several systems to use only 10% water and 5% of the land used for traditional crops. It also includes the use a hydraulic system, a system for separating and recycling sewage; heating; pasteurization system, a system for using coal to power the machinery and lighting; and a monitoring system for irrigation and nutrition. The latter is of great importance, since through a series of sensors they would know the status of plants; detect any abnormality or disease, avoiding the use of pesticides or chemicals.