New Babylon; the Ascension of Vertical Farming.
2,500 years ago, the Babylonians in what is now known as ancient Mesopotamia first developed their hanging gardens, which could be described as the world’s first vertical farms. Now, as traditional farming is shown more and more to be one of the most damaging and inefficient forms of farming, vertical farms are rising again as one of the more promising alternatives.
Present-Day Vertical Farms
Present-day vertical farms utilize LEDs and closed-loop watering systems to use the water available efficiently and reduce waste. The combination of aquaponics and vertical farming is of particular note due to the nutrient-rich solution created by fish waste. The waste creates a nutrient-dense solution that benefits the plants immensely. Of the limited freshwater available, horizontal farming wastes up to 70% of it. Vertical farming, on the other hand, saves 90% less water.
Traditional agriculture is also a significant contributor to the destruction of our natural wild spaces. An acre of the Amazon rainforest is cleared every second to create space for horizontal farms. On top of that, soil degradation has become more and more of a pressing concern as we move into the future. Vertical farming is incredibly space efficient, as they can fit 280 hectares worth of agricultural space into the size of a supermarket. For comparison, that’s 0.02% of the size required by traditional farming.
Vertical Farming Currently
This year the AVF (Association for Vertical Farming) launched an international trade show called VertiFarm to showcase innovations in the industry. VertiFarm is the world’s first business and information exhibition for cultivation methods and products. The trade show highlights current issues faced in the industry, including crop failures, produce supply, and urban sustainability.
As the human population continues to expand into the 21st century, as a world, we need to implement new technologies and solutions in order to keep up with the demand for more food. While vertical farming is taking a while to become dominant, its benefits are clear compared to the costs of traditional agriculture, which have proved to be consistently damaging to the environment.