FARMING – THE #1 AGRICULTURAL REVOLUTION
Researchers and farmers from around the world are coming together to create vertical farms/CEA – an alternative to the current system of producing, transporting, and consuming food. This is an all-out attempt to keep food production local, improve sustainability and reduce the environmental devastation caused by traditional farming. Vertical farming, according to the United Nations’ Food and Agricultural Organization, might assist to enhance food production and extending agricultural operations as the world’s population is expected to exceed 9 billion by 2050, requiring over 220 acres to feed the world’s population.
What is vertical farming/CEA?
Vertical Farming (VF) is a technique of farming in buildings, using fully automated systems in a multi-level marketing approach. This approach can utilize high-density agriculture, 100% indoor environment, and decrease the dependency of agriculture on weather and arable land. Implementing a vertical farming system is the process of using limited space and resources for planting. It’s a method of harvesting crops on vertical shelves or towers rather than the typical horizontal farming method. According to a recent study by Emergen Research, the global vertical farming market would be valued at USD 11.71 billion by 2027.
Why do we need vertical farming/CEA?
The global agriculture industry is believed to be one of the most significant contributors to climate change, accounting for up to 30% of all greenhouse gas emissions. Vertical farming, which does not rely on fossil fuels for energy, can assist to address this issue. This Agtech can also be used to chill cities, reducing the heat-island effect. We are losing arable lands every day as a result of industrial development and urbanization. In 2015, experts claimed that over the previous 40 years, the Earth had lost a third of its arable areas. Cities like Atlanta which is small are turning their heads towards the technology creating space-saving artificial environments to grow their crops in their cities. Vertical farming’s main purpose is to maximize crop output in a small space. The traditional crops or food has to travel a lot of miles before it hits the supermarkets near you. The preservatives and days-old food don’t give you the real taste. Vertical farming provides complete control over the growing environment, resulting in consistent, high-quality harvests. Reduced “food miles” allows people to purchase fresher products, which improves taste. Vertical farming also helps to minimize the cost of food by allowing it to be grown at a cheaper cost than traditional agricultural methods and then transported to local markets, reducing the price by a significant amount.
Controlled Environment Agriculture CEA
(CEA) is an advanced and intensive form of Terraponically-based agriculture where plants grow within a controlled environment in soil to optimize horticultural practices. CEA techniques are not simpler than older systems for growing plants.
Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) is an advanced and intensive form of terraponoicaly-based agriculture where plants grow within a controlled environment in soil to optimize horticultural practices.
CEA techniques are not simpler than older systems for growing plants. Indeed, they demand sound knowledge of chemistry, horticulture, engineering, plant physiology, plant pathology, computers and entomology. A wide range of skills as well as a natural inclination to attend to details are necessary for a person to operate a successful CEA production in either a research or commercial setting.
Today’s consumers increasingly demand a diet that includes fresh, high-quality vegetables free of pesticides and other agricultural chemicals. Local production is also a major factor when fresh vegetables are purchased. In many regions of the United States and the world, climate makes it impossible to meet this need year-round with only local produce. Produce imported into the United States may be from other regions of the country (California, Florida, and Texas are major exporting states) and from other countries (primarily Mexico, Netherlands, and Israel).
When fresh produce is transported great distances there can be a significant loss of quality. Furthermore, energy requirements for transport can be significant. Local production in CEA facilities can also require significant energy inputs for heating, venting, and possibly supplemental lighting. Studies have suggested the (non-solar) energy required to grow and transport fresh produce at least 1000 miles is equivalent to the energy required for local production within CEA facilities in cold and cloudy climates such as the Northeast and upper Midwest.
Transportation relies on liquid fuels, the price of which is predicted to rise faster than the general inflation rate. Production in CEA facilities relies on electricity and natural gas, the prices of which are predicted to rise no faster than inflation. These factors suggest CEA production of fresh vegetables can become a significantly greater component of commercial agriculture in the coming decades.
Benefits to Consumers
Well-managed, local CEA operations can provide fresh produce (as well as flowers or pharmaceutical plants) of high quality and free of agriculture chemicals. Furthermore, CEA facilities can be closed in terms of discharging liquids either to surface or ground waters. CEA facilities can also be located in urbanized areas, thus not requiring the conversion of open or agricultural land to greenhouses. CEA facilities add to local tax bases and bring net income to a community.
Benefits to Agriculture
Certain sectors of the agricultural industry face increasingly difficult economic outlooks. This is especially true of the dairy industry. Diversification is one means to improve the economic stability of small farmers and CEA is an option to diversify. Furthermore, many family farms can not be divided among two or more children wishing to remain in agriculture. Adding a robust CEA facility provides the opportunity for more than one child to remain.
Benefits to Utilities
The two most important environmental variables for growing plants are temperature and light. Both parameters must be controlled to be uniform from one location to another in a NexGen Farm, and consistent from day to day. The only method available to achieve consistency is to use supplemental lighting. Where the climate is cloudy, electricity needed yearly for suitable lighting can be as much as one hundred kilowatt-hours per square foot of lighted area. This load is primarily during off-peak hours and can be interrupted for short periods. These features should make CEA electricity loads highly attractive to many local utilities. To aaddress this Terra Firma Foods addresses this issue by supplying it’s own Waste-to-Energy system in it’s efforts to be self-reliant and not dependent on the existing grid.
Vertical farming technology/CEA
Understanding the technologies that allow for vertical farming is the most effective way of explaining it. From one city to the next, vertical farms differ. Temperature, carbon dioxide, oxygen, lighting, humidity, nutrient content, pH, insect management, watering, and harvesting are all monitored using smart sensors in vertical farms. There are different AgTech available nowadays in different forms. Let’s have a look into its type.
Types of vertical farming / CEA
Various sizes and shapes are available, ranging from modest two-level or wall-mounted systems to enormous warehouses with multiple levels. For providing nutrients to plants, all vertical farms use one of three soilless systems: hydroponic, aeroponic, or aquaponic. Terraponics is a hybrid system using both soil and hydroponics.
It entails growing plants in a nutrient solution free of soil, with the roots submerged in the solution, which is maintained and circulated on a regular basis to ensure the correct chemical composition.
NASA came up with the term “aeroponics” to describe growing plants in an air/mist environment with no soil and very little water in the 1990s because they were interested in discovering efficient ways to grow plants in space. Compared to other hydroponic systems, this utilizes 90% less water.
An aquaponic system expands on the hydroponic system by incorporating plants and fish into one environment. Fish are raised in indoor ponds, producing nutrient-rich excrement that is utilized to feed the vertical farm’s plants. The plants then filter and cleanse wastewater before returning it to the fishponds.
The new method that’s been emerging is Terraponics, a hybrid growing approach that incorporates traditional soil-growing techniques. Terraponics can achieve 12-14 grow cycles in 365 calendar days. Terrafirmafoods has 45 years of industry experience and has developed a system using controlled environmental technologies which is just like traditional soil-growing methods but better.