Humans have been growing their food since the beginning of time. Although the world has moved on massively since then, food sustainability still depends on being able to scale farming operations and associated technology to be able to meet increasing consumer demands.
The human population has never been larger than it is now and is predicted to keep growing. The United Nations predicts that “the world’s population is expected to increase by 2 billion persons in the next 30 years, from 7.7 billion currently to 9.7 billion in 2050 and could peak at nearly 11 billion around 2100.”
This massive increase in population size will place an even more tremendous strain on an already strained agriculture industry. The farming industry also has to deal with the effects of climate change, which make crop forecasting and crop management more difficult, especially when you add catastrophic storms, drought and flooding into the mix!
However, as traditional farming struggles to cope with environmental impacts and resource management, there is hope in the form of vertical farming.
What is vertical farming?
Vertical farming is just what it sounds like, using structures to grow crops vertically indoors rather than expanding outward. Vertical farms can be small single-storey or multi-storey buildings containing wide crop varieties across several levels of climate-controlled space.
Growing crops indoors allows farmers to utilise a controlled environment where they are no longer struggling with the impact of weather. It also allows them to use technology more precisely to maintain a more uniform quality in food production and more significant efficiency. Vertical farms also tend to have less impact on the environment, as they tend to use less fertiliser and water, and there should be no need for pesticides, either.
What impact does farming have on the environment?
Agriculture and farming require a lot of land and other resources to maintain the production levels needed to feed the billions of people inhabiting our planet. These production levels are starting to have a detrimental impact on the environment through the pollution of air, land and water, as well as a severe depletion of natural resources.
Some statistics related to farming include:
- Food production contributes to about 30% of global greenhouse gas emissions
- Farms occupy about 40% of global land
- The agriculture industry uses 70% of the freshwater available
If we carry on the way we are, the increased food production needed to feed the ever-growing population will only exacerbate the current problems and create even more issues.
How can vertical farming boost food sustainability?
The UN has a Sustainable Development Goal of Zero Hunger by 2030 but isn’t on track to meet its current targets. Current food supply chains are delicate, as only certain climate zones can support the growth of certain foods in high demand around the globe. This has led to stretched supply chains, requiring more facilities and shipping, leading to more carbon emissions and a more significant carbon footprint.
Changing to a focus on vertical farming means producers can grow more nutritious food without pesticides and with much less fertiliser. Indoor vertical farms can also be placed almost anywhere in the world, even close to heavily populated areas, reducing the need for shipping.
Vertical farming also helps improve food equity, as underserved communities can more easily get healthier foods that are less expensive to grow.
Vertical farming can help us achieve greater efficiency, use less water, and grow a wider variety of crops closer to the people consuming them, thereby reducing supply chain costs and improving freshness and nutritional value.
If you want to be part of the sustainable farming solution by using Gelponics sustainable growth substrate, please don’t hesitate to contact us and find out more.