Scientists said that the Earth had lost one-third of its arable lands in the last 40 years. That means, lesser land to grow crops that will provide food for humanity. But these days, vertical farms have slowly become a trend in cities, growing leafy vegetables inside a controlled room.
In the next 30 years, it is estimated that the world's population will grow to 9.7 billion people, which poses many challenges, such as producing food for everyone. Agricultural lands are slowly vanishing in some countries due to industrial development and urbanization that turn rural areas into cities.
Vertical farms are becoming a trend these past few years in various countries, like in the US, the UK, and Dubai. Vertical farming makes farming possible even with a scarce land area because it is producing food on vertically inclined surfaces instead of a field or greenhouse.
In vertical farming, produce is vertically stacked in layers commonly integrated into the other structures, such as a skyscraper, shipping container, and repurposed warehouse or night clubs.
This modern idea of indoor farming uses the Controlled Environment Agriculture technology that controls the room's temperature, light, humidity, and gases. Vertical farming is somewhat similar to greenhouses that use metal reflectors and artificial lighting to augment natural sunlight.
Ultimately, vertical farming's primary goal is maximizing crops in a limited space and providing more food for the whole population.
AI-Controlled Vertical Farms Promise A Revolution in Food Production
Nate Storey, who co-founded the San Francisco agricultural-technical startup called Plenty, uses vertical farming to answer the increasing food demands of the growing population.
His company has constructed climate-controlled vertical farms that have drawn over $400 million funding from Soft Bank, Amazon's Jeff Bezos, and former Google Chairman Eric Schmidt, TechXplore reported.
His vertical farms only use about two acres, yet it can produce 720 acres worth of fruit and vegetables. He uses AI-controlled robots to control the lighting, temperature and watering. Meanwhile, LED panels to serve as the sunlight, which means that food is grown 24/7 inside his vertical farms, and water is recycled because the evaporated water is recaptured so that there is no waste.
Plenty's vertical farms are so efficient that it uses 99% less land and 95% less water than conventional farming practices. Also, the rows of hanging plants produce 400 times more food per acre. Indeed, a revolution in food production.
The AI-controlled robots monitor the plant growth and constantly adjust the environmental factors to ensure more efficient and economic output.
Vertical farming looks more promising, especially in times like the pandemic when food production is disrupted. In Dubai, their food supply was not affected so much during the pandemic's early days because of their vertical farms. The San Francisco-based company's approach to farming also plays a similar role in the stability of the food chain.
"Free agriculture from the constraints of weather, seasons, time, distance, pests, natural disasters, and climate," Plenty's website reads.
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