Vertical Farming

Vertical Farming :
(From Business Insider. 28th Mar. 2013

The concept of vertical farm “skyscrapers” was first imagined a little over a decade ago by Columbia University professor Dickson Despommier.

Growing up — not out — Despommier contends, is one solution to the impending global food crisis and reducing energy consumption.
By 2050, the World Health Organization estimates that seven out of 10 people will live in a city, while global population is expected to hit 9 billion.

The United Nations projects that to feed all those extra mouths would require farmers to produce 70 percent more food globally by 2050, compared to 2009 levels.

Unfortunately, fields don’t magically expand as the population gets bigger, and most of the world’s available arable land is already being used.

Climate change, contributing to floods and droughts, is likely to reduce the amount of cultivatable land even further in the future. 
Vertical farms, a space-saving technique that allows plants to be grown in stacked layers, one on top of the other, has been presented as a sustainable answer to the world’s run on land and water resources.

At least that’s how Jolanta Hardej, the CEO of the nation’s largest indoor vertical farm, FarmedHere, sees it.

Vertical farms typically rely on hydroponics, the method of growing plants in nutrient-rich water instead of soil. FarmedHere, which celebrated its grand opening this week, uses something called aquaponics, which combines hydroponics with raising fish, or what’s known as aquaculture. 

The seeds of basil, arugula, and other leafy greens are placed in small baskets made of coconut shavings, called coconut cores. The seeds germinate under artificial (compact-fluorescent) light. Once the plants are about two to three inches tall, they are transferred to a vertical grow system, made up of five to six stacked beds. Each basket is placed in a foam float so that the roots of the plants are submerged in the water.

FarmedHere

Giant tanks filled with tilapia provide nutrient-rich water for the plants.

The water comes from four 800-gallon tanks containing around 800 tilapia fish. The water, rich with fish waste, is filtered and clarified before it’s fed to the plants. The water then goes back to the fish tanks in a closed-loop system. This enables the facility to conserve 97 percent of fresh water per farm acre compared to regular agriculture, according to Hardej. (Once the fish are full-grown they are also sold at market).

Because the lights are never turned off, the growing process continues through the night. As a result, FarmedHere’s produce has a much shorter growing cycle than traditional agriculture.

Leafy greens grow in 14 to 16 days, whereas traditionally farmed arugula takes 50 days, Hardej claims. Similarly, basil’s growing cycle is 20 to 22 days compared to the 48- to 60-day growing cycle at a traditional farm.

“We have a 99 percent crop success, whereas traditional farming typically has 75 percent success,” Hardej said. Per equivalent unit of land, “yields are 20 times bigger than yields of traditional agriculture.”

A greater output per acre of land is not the only obvious benefit of growing vegetables, fruits, and grains inside of tall buildings. A climate-controlled environment means farmers don’t have to worry about weather hazards, like deep freezes or drought. Crops don’t have be doused in herbicides and pesticides because insects aren’t problem. And, because urban farms are inherently set up to reduce the distance between where food is grown and the consumers that buy and eat it, transportation costs and carbon footprint are markedly lower.

Hardej, for example, tries not to sell her produce in supermarkets that are farther than 20 to 25 miles from the facility.

The former mortgage broker expects to produce 300,000 pounds of leafy greens by the end of 2013 and 1 million pounds of leafy greens by the following year. All of this is being conducted in a 90,000 square-foot converted Chicago warehouse (which converts to 140,000 feet of farming space). The facility is only at 20 percent capacity right now, with around 25 full-time farmers, but it won’t stay that way for long.

Eventually, Hardej expects to plant roots in urban areas throughout the country, from Los Angeles to New York City. 

businessinsider.com/farmedhe … ng-2013-3#








Dear Zen,
A very significant share. I have been discussing a lot about vertical farming. This article is inspiring.

2 aspects are striking - 1 artificial light reduces the growing time by half, and create an ecosystem is created thru the aquaculture system.

Some concerns:
The first one in the Indian context is cost – is it sustainable? Probably no… But i am still working on the ability to make it work, as a profitable unit. If the numbers make sense then i think it is worth taking the affort.

Lets say a multi storey poly house, per acre costs 35 lacs, what will be the cost of putting together a 3 storey poly house? my take is it will be around 50-55 lacs, given that most of the foundation work is already done.
This gives us 3 acres of poly house.
With suitable crops to grow, herbs, tomato, capsicum, in vertical layers, there is a good potential for this concept.

Would like to have your comments on this concept, what is ur thought process?

Regards
Santosh.

[quote="jack2221"]
Dear Zen,
A very significant share. I have been discussing a lot about vertical farming. This article is inspiring.

2 aspects are striking - 1 artificial light reduces the growing time by half, and create an ecosystem is created thru the aquaculture system.

Some concerns:
The first one in the Indian context is cost – is it sustainable? Probably no… But i am still working on the ability to make it work, as a profitable unit. If the numbers make sense then i think it is worth taking the affort.

Lets say a multi storey poly house, per acre costs 35 lacs, what will be the cost of putting together a 3 storey poly house? my take is it will be around 50-55 lacs, given that most of the foundation work is already done.
This gives us 3 acres of poly house.
With suitable crops to grow, herbs, tomato, capsicum, in vertical layers, there is a good potential for this concept.

Would like to have your comments on this concept, what is ur thought process?

Regards
Santosh.
[/quote] Hi 35 lakh poly house materiel quality meets only for that size, if you want multistory poly house, then your cost of construction certainly will increase at least 2 to 3 folds to meet the strength.

Dear Santosh,

While Polyhouse farming is a successfully proven concept overseas and even in India, Vertical farming is a revolutionary concept that is making its presence felt in the US. As with any new technique, the pros and cons of the system will reveal itself after a few years.

The concerns of vertical farming are :

  1. Technology
  2. Economics

Here’s another link on the subject for your info :

huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/2 … 71328.html

Regards,

Zen

Dear Swami,

My understanding is that poly house construction is a learnable affair, most of the looting happens cause we think it is some rocket science. No it is not. We are perfectly capable of building a sturdy PH with a little study. Possibility of importing steel, cement and Poly film will reduce costs further. most PH are built with a minimum height of 3 + mts, with artificial lighting and forced ventilation this too in unnecessary, for most PH crops a ht of 10 ft to 12 ft is enough. it also reduces air volume to be handled, humidity control will be far better.

Yes there will be challenges, but then dont we face a lot of them even in any other form of farming?
The only big question is the economics…
The article that Zen has linked gives a breath of fresh air, it allows for some hope.

When i read it it triggered so many possibilities, it is the first time i read of developing a controlled eco system rather than a mechanised farm.

I do know that this form of farming is very prevalent in Europe, but then the consumer choices are very different as compared to India, where price is every thing.

Warm Regards
Santosh.

Now this is just amazing. See the pic. attached.

Came across this on CNN. Link below.

edition.cnn.com/2013/03/29/livin … ?hpt=hp_c3


The Method  of Verticle Farming Bringing our by our Brother is superb and I am appreciating the Efforts of our Brother.But it is the question of adaptability.Lot of Wast land is un-cultivable because of the Lack of Encouragement  of the Governments  in negligent attitude of the Governments and Lethargic attitude of the Machinery i.e. Departments and Unversities (Agrl.)

I too agree with the argument of Mr.jack2221.Is it Practicable in India. Govt. is not in a Position to Provide Loans for the In-fracture like Fencing /Digging Bore wells /Drip Irrigation etc. Instead of three layer Farming TWO Layer Farming by Putting Pendals in the Land is better and cost effective.Govts. (Central/Sate)  are  Providing funds/Subsidies to other sectors neglecting Farmers.It is pitiable thing that  Govts. are not providing any Budgets separately for Agri-Horticulture.It is the Proper and right time to to Bring Pressure on the Governments through our Forum . In view of the ensuing Elections  we should Bring Pressure on the Government through our Forum while Motivating and made the Illiterate Farmers by providing Knowledge.