Agriculture and climate change are deeply intertwined. The effects of global warming on food supply are dire, while the world population is increasing. It’s time to change the way agriculture affects the environment, and vice versa.
Traditional farming heavily contributes to the amount of global carbon emissions. In February 2019, EPA released the annual Draft Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks report, revealing that total greenhouse gas emissions in 2017 were at 6.5 billion metric tons in carbon dioxide equivalents. Greenhouse gas emissions related to agriculture totaled 582 million metric tons in 2017, up slightly from prior-year levels, but down two percent from a decade ago.
Greenhouse gases have far-ranging environmental and health effects. They cause climate change by trapping heat, and they also contribute to respiratory disease from smog and air pollution. Extreme weather, food supply disruptions, and increased wildfires are other effects of climate change caused by greenhouse gases. One of the ways we can combat this worldwide catastrophe is to change the way we farm.
Vertical farming is the practice of growing crops in vertically stacked layers. It incorporates controlled-environment agriculture, which aims to optimize plant growth, and soilless farming techniques such as hydroponics, aquaponics, and aeroponics. This modern idea also uses indoor farming techniques. The artificial control of temperature, light, humidity, and gases makes producing foods and medicine indoors possible. In many ways, vertical farming is similar to greenhouses, where metal reflectors and artificial lighting augment natural sunlight. The primary goal of vertical farming is maximizing crop output in a limited space.
The Benefits of Vertical Farming
The benefits of vertical indoor farming are endless. If vertical farming is practiced at large scale in urban communities, it will supply enough food to comfortably feed humankind, allow large spaces of land to revert to their natural landscape, which will restore ecosystem functions, and it will safely and efficiently use the organic portion of human and agricultural waste to produce energy through methane generation. Year-round food production without seasonal, weather-related loss will be possible, and growing food inside of an environment contaminated by fecal matter will no longer be an issue. With all of these positive features, it is clear that vertical farming is a path to creating a safe and healthy world for our future generations.
Vertical farms use approximately 90% less water than traditional farming, increase crop yield and lead to significantly reduced CO2 emissions.
A study completed by the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health shows the amount of water used to produce 1kg of lettuce through traditional agriculture is comparable to filling a large chest freezer. Meanwhile, greenhouses use 92% less water to produce the same amount of lettuce-but with deadly costs for the environment. Vertical farms, on the other hand, can reduce their water usage to the volume of a medium-sized cooking pan, and without harming the environment.If you’re wondering how that could be possible, let us explain-the only water that is extracted from the vertical farming system is the water from inside the crop during its harvest, because the system recycles the water over and over again. This same study also shows puts higher crop yields from vertical farming into perspective. If you grow lettuce on an agricultural field of 1x1 meter, you can yield 3.9 kg every year. When lettuce is grown on the same amount of land in a greenhouse, 41 kg can be harvested.Vertical farms have the ability to yield twenty times more lettuce than agricultural fields, exceeding the abilities of greenhouse growing.Vertical farms typically use hydroponics or aeroponics methods to grow crops without soil, which means that it can support the supply of fresh produce despite scarcity of land.
As mentioned above, vertical farming drastically reduces water usage because it will recycle the same water over and over again with its hydroponic system. Farmers won’t have to purchase herbicides, pesticides, or pest control services, because there will be no pests to worry about. These chemicals are very harsh and often run off into rivers and lakes, making them responsible for ocean dead zones and algae destruction. Aside from significantly lessening extra costs for farmers, vertical farming also brings relief to our environment.
Reducing our Carbon Footprint
Vertical farming allows us to integrate food production literally anywhere, which reduces emissions from transporting food hundreds of thousands of miles via car, train or aircraft. In the US, meat and fish are commonly transported via aircraft, as well as herbs, vegetables and flowers. Countries all over the world have different means to food, depending on climate and what naturally populates in their location. In one day, Singapore imports 93% of its produce, so if the country started integrating vertical farming, there would be a huge decrease in its daily carbon footprint.
Food Waste Benefits
Traditional farmers often claim that they can deliver retailers the freshest fruits and vegetables, which will reduce spoilage. However, retailers end up creating a large amount of waste every day, based upon the looks of produce. Customers often don’t buy fruit or vegetables that don’t look perfect, and those items are thrown away at the end of the day. Vertical indoor farming can eliminate many of these losses because it can produce food that meets retail standards. Without the destructive winds, hot days, and pests from the outdoors, food that is grown inside vertical farms will look pretty close to perfect. If crop losses from weather were eliminated, and losses from not meeting retail standards and from retail disposal halved, this would make vertical farms nearly 50% more productive and shrink their carbon footprint compared to outdoor production.
At DSS, we have several products that are designed to make vertical farming easy. Our high-density mobile shelving, slide bench system, and LED light fixtures are essential for maximizing space, increasing your yield and boosting your bottom line. Our vertical grow system consists of three main components:
Vertical Racking – constructed of heavy-duty steel, GROW vertical racking is designed to provide stable, long-term support for plants.
Carriages – Acting as the bond between racking and rails, carriages allow people to safely move thousands of pounds with minimal effort.
Rails – Rail systems guide GROW carriages to optimize space and provide access to aisles. You can choose from a variety of rail options to create your grow room design.
Incorporating Vertical Farming into Your Business
You already have your own unique agriculture methods that work for you, and the goal isn’t to kick them to curb – it is to fine-tune them so we can take care of the world we live in. By incorporating vertical farming into your business, you will be prioritizing human life. With the severe climate change and extreme weather patterns happening globally, our world won’t be the same for long. Vertical farming gives us a way to change that, if we do it together.