The Concept of Vertical Farming
For starters, vertical farming is the practice of producing food in vertically stacked layers, such as: in a skyscraper, used warehouse or shipping container and very recently, in the comfort of our homes. Here is a simple guide to vertical farming at home.
In simple terms, vertical farming is the growing of plants in layers.
The prevailing concepts of vertical farming make use of indoor farming techniques and CEA Technology (controlled environmental agriculture), a case where it is possible and easy to control all environmental factors such as: the utilization of the artificial control of light, fertigation (The injection of fertilizers, soil amendments and water soluble products into an irrigation system) and environmental control of humidity, temperature and gases present in the environment. The use of sunlight is also employed by some by some vertical farms, a case similar to greenhouses where sunlight is amplified using artificial lightening and metal reflectors.
Methods Employed in Vertical Farming
Over the years, various methods have been employed in modern vertical farming which includes the use of Skyscraper, used warehouse or shipping container. Several other technologies have been suggested and are been researched upon and they include: greenhouse, compositing, grow light, phytoremediation, precision agriculture, vertical growing architectures, hydroponics, flowerpot, agricultural robot, to mention a few.
Vertical farming is an innovative, effortless and highly productive farming technique especially in vegetable farming. The technique makes use of the various required resources to allow plants grow vertically as opposed to the conventional use of the surface of the horizon.
Vertical Farming at Home
Inventors and innovators have over the years come up with several ideas on how to practice vertical farming in the comfort of our homes and this includes the DIY indoor vertical farm, an automated invention that has its environmental and nutritional control on your mobile device.
One factor however is widely neglected when a vertical farm is been planned and that is; the energy required for the construction and operational bustles of vertical farms which essentially works against the ecological advantages. Several low tech vertical farming systems have been introduced, such as the Window farms, which employs the use of lamps, pumps, and electricity and is based on the concept of hydroponics.
Another is the ELIOOO which is actually not a device but manual that explains steps in building, operating and maintaining a variety of indoor farms which range from the small windowsill herb planter to a large mobile vertical garden. The ELIOOO is also based on the principle of Hydroponics which is revered for its ecological benefits, alongside its practical and design advantages.
Hydroponics, which essentially means growing plants in water instead of soil make less use of water than the usual farming methods, about 90% less water. The system requires lesser space and it also makes growing easier as it gives users total control of the required plant nutrient at each growing stage.
Another widely accepted vertical farm is the DIY vertical farm, a robotic vertical garden which requires some hardware store parts making up the structure, electronic pieces peculiar to the design. Indoor gardening requirement such as efficient and sufficient growing light, fans, a Carbon dioxide burner, in some cases, a grow tent and some other elements depending on the farmer’s interest.
Requirements for Vertical Farming at Home
Running a vertical farm at home may not be so cheap after all, at least when starting up as it requires potential vertical farmers to purchase and install hardware components, which may be expensive, it also requires a constant supply of electricity as the systems are automated. The technological ingenuity of the systems employed for vertical farming are in some cases high tech, thus stating the need for some level of knowhow in operating the systems.
Guide to Vertical Garden at you Home Kitchen
A much easier method has however been designed by Belgian Professor Willem Van Cottehem, a vertical kitchen garden system. This involved the transformation of normal plastic bottles into efficient containers on a container rack and can be used for growing various kinds of plants, young trees inclusive. The water supply can be automated without having to source for electricity. With this method, there is hardly any use of water a phenomenon achieved through the minimization of evaporation and it is low cost due to the use of waste materials and it surly is a system that can be used regardless of financial constraints.
Starting a bottle tower garden as described by the professor requires:
- Get 6 plastic bottles of required number
- Cut off the bottom of each bottle, leaving the lid of two of the bottles, to be used as the bottom bottle of the tower and funnel.
- Two holes are perforated on bottle, few centimeters from the top of the lid, one on either side. Holes are to serve as drainage where surplus water can be expelled.
- Pot soil, a mixture of manure and dirt is filled up to a few centimeters from the bottom.
- The next three bottles are also filled with pot soil and all four bottles placed on upon the bottom bottle, vertically.
- Another bottle, also without its lid on (the funnel) is then placed on the tower.
- The last bottle, with a tiny hole on its lid is pushed in to the empty funnel serves as the water tank that supplies the tower with water running slowly through its tiny hole.
- The whole network is to be held firmly together.
- Small windows are made on the soil filled bottles through which the root of seedlings and young plants are planted.
The importance of Vertical Farming in a world of ever-increasing population cannot be over emphasized. Having a vertical farm at home means one would be able to save more money in terms of buying food. The controlled nutrition of plants also means that the produce of such farms are expected to be of a higher nutritional value which is good for human health. Vertical farms also ensures secure food security, the preservation of endangered species of plants and the conservation of resources, particularly land, as it is limited in availability.