Climate change and world population growth put a strain on extensive traditional production systems.
The search for alternatives has led, in recent times, to a great development of soilless crops: hydroponics and aquaponics offer a fundamental contribution to the challenge to feed the planet.
A recent study has analyzed some of the most technological innovations that are revolutionizing the agricultural industry, such as vertical agriculture, a particular type of cultivation, used both in hydroponics and aquaponics.
So let’s see what data emerged from the research and what is meant by vertical farming.
Vertical Farming: Innovation
The water footprint of the foods we eat indicates the amount of water needed to produce them: these are alarming numbers, of which the consumer often has no idea, and which change according to the type of production.
Globally, agriculture is responsible for 65% of water consumption and our country has very worrying data because the percentage is 25% higher than in other European states.
Furthermore, in 2050, according to FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations), the world population will exceed 10 billion: the resources of two planets would thus be needed to meet the needs of so many people unless there is a radical turnaround.
Why Vertical Farms?
The future farming research has taken into consideration new technologies applied to agriculture to analyze their advantages in terms of safety, quantity, and quality of production.
What emerges is that the use of these methodologies would reduce the necessary soil by 95% and water by 70%, increasing revenues by 80%. Among the innovations, there is also vertical agriculture or vertical farming.
As we have already mentioned, these are soilless cultivation in greenhouses, closed, which develop in height on several levels, air-conditioned and automated, about large plants.
These systems are 75% more productive than traditional agriculture in the field and consume very little water, about 95% less.
Furthermore, vertical farms have no geographical constraints, since they can also find a place in urban areas and offer fresh, zero-kilometer products.
Vertical Farming: Trade System
According to Josef Nierling, CEO of Porsche Consulting, “vertical farming will also radically change the traditional relationships between customer and supplier throughout the agri-food chain.
“The producers of agricultural machinery – continues Nierling – will have to reinvent the portfolio of their products to support vertical farmers, while the latter becomes truly zero kilometer producers, eliminating the high number of passages present along the distribution channel and becoming the same as fruit and vegetable outlets “.
Examples of Vertical Farming
The largest vertical agriculture project is that of Dubai, currently under construction, with a size of 13,000 square meters; in Russia, a network of vertical farms is being created within urban areas, which should reach a horticultural production of about 1 million kg per year.
Finally, Canada also has its vertical farms in Montreal. On a small scale, however, vertical farms are already widespread for the cultivation of products such as strawberries or aromatic plants, both in the United States and in Europe.
The applications of this technology also concern the aerospace sector: the hypothesis is that it can even grow on lunar soil.
Beyond this perspective, although for many not so distant and unrealistic, the advantages of vertical agriculture are tangible and respond to the growing need for sustainability in the production sector.
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