We’ve all heard about “vertical farming”.But you’re probably wondering:“What is vertical farming, and how does it work?”“What are some vertical farming advantages?”
“Can I do it on a small scale myself?”
In this article, we will know all the answers to this mind blowing questions.
What is vertical farming?
Most people think vertical farming is the process of growing vertically in “stacks” into the air. Although many vertical farms are built in large stacks of layers, the defining trait of a vertical farm is that the “plane” of growing is vertical, not horizontal (like traditional farming). In reality Vertical farming can be in just one layer (But usually it’s more). Vertical farming often but not always uses technology to aid the growing process, for example common elements include:
– humidity control
– temperature control
– artificial lighting (mixes of artificial and natural light can be used)
– control / monitoring of nutrients and fertilizer.
What are the Different Types Of Vertical Farms?
There are three main categories of vertical farms:
1) Mixed Use Skyscrapers
2) Despommier Skyscrapers
3) Stackable Shipping Containers.
How Vertical Farming Works
There are four key areas to analyze the function of urban farming:
(1) physical layout
(3) growing medium
(4) sustainability features
We can use the following example and break down the key characteristics and functions of a vertical farm:
Starting Your First Vertical Farm? Follow These 4 Steps To Be Successful
If you are thinking about starting a vertical farm, you should focus on 4 aspects of your plan in order to be successful. These points are summarized from this article.
1) Use of Space Efficiently (With Vertical Growing Planes)
There are 2 forms of vertical farming:
i. Growing on the normal horizontal plane and stacking beds vertically
ii. Growing plants on a vertical plane (growing sideways)
Each of these growing styles in a vertical farm has different results for how space will be utilized. The key advantage for space utilization lies in vertical plane growing systems. Why?Vertical plane growing systems can have plants growing on both sides of the plane (think one plant growing sideways in each direction).
Additionally, harvesting is much less labor intensive with vertical growing plane systems in vertical farming.
Growing in the vertical plane is usually a more efficient use of space than in the horizontal plane.
2) Reduce Labor Costs
The accessibility of your vertical farm is key to reducing labor costs. As discussed in detail above, the advantage once again falls with vertical growing planes that do not have stacked rows of plants.
Horizontally stacked rows of plants are not efficient to harvest, monitor, or otherwise tend to. Less efficient = more time = more labor cost.
3) Focus On Profitability
For beginner vertical farmers, there’s good news and bad news. Bad news first:
The idea among growers that higher volume leads to higher profits is common but false. Depending on the design of your vertical farm, costs increase at a faster rate with scale than crop production does.
Focusing on unit profitability, not scale, is doable even for a beginning grower.
How does one focus on profitability? Focusing on efficiency, labor cost management and investing in environment and plant health, is a great start toward profitable vertical farming.
4) Invest in Environment and Plant Health
A couple key aspects of your vertical farm should be considered with regard to environment and plant health:
a) How optimized is the system for heat dissipation? Grow lights will generate heat, regardless of what type, and optimizing airflow will be helpful.
b) How well does the system distribute excess moisture?
c) How well do gases like CO2 circulate?
All of the factors above are optimized generally speaking from employing vertical plane growth over stacked horizontal plane growth.