Our contemporary eating habits have created a demand for food that is available 365 days a year, regardless of season or location of production. This requires food to travel on average 1500 km, wasting valuable energy to reach its end consumer. That’s not all. Food waste has become a major problem, with thirty percent of produce spoiling before it makes it to its destination—contributing up to 8% of global CO2 emissions. On the other hand the food that does survive the long journey is not fresh and lacks vital nutrients.
Increasingly, consumers are demanding local food, rich in nutritional values, without chemical pesticides and with a minimal carbon footprint.
Overall agriculture is taking a heavy toll on the environment, using 30% of global energy consumption and 70% of freshwater (FAO). This suggests that as the population increases agricultural land per capita will decrease in the coming years.
These issues have given rise to a new form of agriculture, one that uses fewer resources and does not depend on arable land: Vertical Farming.
What is Vertical Farming?
Vertical farms use artificial lighting (VFAL) to grow crops in vertically stacked layers under carefully controlled conditions:
- Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) that mimic sunlight
- Out of soil techniques (e.g., hydroponics and aeroponics) where water is recycled
The ability to precisely tailor the growing environmental also leads to increased yields and crop quality in comparison with field and greenhouse production.
Vertical Farming vs/ Intensive Field Farming
- Vertical farming uses 95% less water
- Vertically farmed crops have a 2x faster growth
- Vertical farming requires 98% less land
- Vertical farming can be very close to its end consumer (in cities etc.)
- Vertical farming does not use pesticides (no need in a controlled environment)
- Vertically farmed produce has an optimal taste: it is BEYOND ORGANIC
Article By: Benjamin Franchetti, founder at Agricola Moderna —Vertical Farm startup in Milan, Italy.