Could Vertical Farming Meet the Food Needs of Tomorrow's Cities? Five Takeaways

2 minute read

The majority of today’s global population lives in cities and by 2050, our population will have reached 9 billion people with 70% - 80% living in cities and urban areas (1). Apart from large-scale food security concerns, the world is also facing the loss of arable land and decreased access to freshwater fueled by global warming. Vertical farming creates the future blueprint for securing the world’s food supply. It refers to growing crops in multiple vertical layers indoors, in controlled environments, repurposed warehouses, growth chambers, and even shipping containers.

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Here are Heliospectra’s five takeaways:

Leafy Greens growing under LED Light Bars

1. LED Grow Lights Make Vertical Farming Viable

LED grow lights have been the catalyst for growers looking to grow vertically. With recent developments in technology, growers can now maximize crop yields and standardize production 365 days a year.

The ability to alter light spectra and the quality of light that the crops are exposed to has huge implications on every aspect of production. Growers gain more control than ever by knowing that correct light can influence each variable—from how crops develop, when they bloom, how they taste, and even their chemical compositions.

A display of Heliospectra's SIERA Light Bars
With its astonishingly lightweight, IP66 rating, and simple mounting solutions, our SIERA light bars redefine the ways in which growers can simplify their vertical farming installations.

2. Vertical Farms Use Less Water for Food Cultivation

Agriculture currently accounts for roughly 70% of our water usage (2) and is also responsible for the vast majority of water runoff and contamination issues (3) that are present today. In contrast, vertical farming utilizes 70% - 95% less water compared to traditional farming (4). Some of the largest and most successful vertical farms also incorporate closed-loop water circulation systems to recirculate water to their crops, leading to an even greater reduction in water usage.

3. Vertical Farming is Less Labour Intensive

Vertical farming equipment enables smart farming with precision technologies and controls to greatly reducing the crop input costs and intense labor of field farming. The increasing development of Al, automation, and robotics will also continue to increase revenue for growers and support even greater resource savings and operational efficiencies.

A look at several grow racks inside a vertical farm facility

4. Vertical Farming Has the Ability to Conserve Land

Simply put, vertical farming produces more food per square meter, using up to 90% less land (5). This can help promote biodiversity as farmers drastically reduce their environmental footprint by growing more food on less land, encouraging an increase in livestock populations and natural enrichment of arable farmlands.

Arable land is also a valuable resource and as soil health decreases with use, so does the nutritional value of our food. The more we continue to farm through traditional methods, the more we reduce the bare mineral components and quality of soils. Vertical farming changes this by instead using aquaponic, hydroponic, and aeroponic growing mediums instead of soil. By using these controlled media, vertical farming has also helped farmers move away from using pesticides in their production.

5. Vertical Farms Bring Local Food to Consumers and Neighbourhoods

Reducing emissions from transport is one of the most important measures to combat global warming from cars, trucks, aircraft, and boats creating almost 20% of manmade carbon dioxide worldwide (6). Vertical farming addresses these issues by creating a sustainable model for locally grown produce. By growing locally, food has to travel less distance and requires less artificial protection (i.e. refrigeration), resulting in produce that is not only fresher but has a smaller environmental impact across the entire production chain.

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