Vertical farming is a revolutionary agriculture technique that has become very popular in recent years. This farming technique allows for the cultivation of crops on vertically inclined surfaces or vertically stacked layers. Whether inside the house (indoor) or in your garden (outdoor), vertical farming offers an excellent way to grow vegetables and fruits year-round, in a limited space, and independently. These layers are often integrated into buildings such as houses, skyscrapers, shipping containers, greenhouses, or repurposed warehouses.
Vertical farming provides numerous benefits compared to conventional farming, such as greater food production, space efficiency, water conservation, and many more. However, it is also imperative to know the vertical farming watering techniques in order to achieve optimal yields.
In this blog, we will explore the significant benefits of vertical farming, essential vertical farming watering techniques, and its comparison with conventional farming. Let’s begin!
The Benefits of Vertical Farming
There are lots of compelling reasons why you should start vertical farming. This agriculture approach provides maximum output with less environmental impact and less space required.
Maintaining food production using conventional farming methods will become more challenging as resources are at a premium. Fortunately, this new way of farming is revolutionizing agriculture.
Let’s look closer at the significant benefits of vertical farming and their impact on issues like water shortage, food shortage, and resource depletion.
Space efficiency is the most apparent advantage of vertical farming. As the layers are vertically stacked, growing more crops in a smaller footprint is possible. For example, one acre of vertical farm may consistently produce the same amount of food as 10 to 20 soil-based acres, depending on the grown crop.
Therefore, vertical farming can be efficiently set up anywhere, especially in urban environments where land is scarce.
Vertical farms offer consistent year-round crop production by controlling environmental conditions, such as temperature and humidity. Gone are the days when fruits and vegetables were available only during specific seasons. No matter the conditions, this technique can produce various crops year-round.
As a result, vertical farming eliminates the limitations imposed by seasonal changes in traditional farming.
Not only does vertical farming save space, but it saves a huge amount of water. With vertical farming, farmers can use 98% less water than traditional farming. Water is recycled, and every drop goes where the plants need it. This farming method uses advanced watering techniques such as drip irrigation, which reduces water waste and overall water footprint.
Thanks to the vertical arrangements of the plants, any excess water that a plant cannot absorb will fall to the below plants. So, no water is wasted in vertical farming.
Vertical farms have little or no need for chemical pesticides and herbicides. Controlled indoor environments in this system keep out pests naturally, so you don’t need to use any chemicals to grow foods, which promotes healthier and pesticide-free produce.
Vertical farms can be located in urban areas, which reduces the distance produce travels from farms to grocery stores. This lowers their carbon footprint associated with transportation and produces fresher food. When food is grown just miles from where consumers will eat it, it stays fresher longer.
Vertical Farming vs. Conventional Farming
Vertical farming provides plenty of unique advantages over conventional farming. Let’s briefly compare vertical farming with traditional farming:
Vertical farming makes the most of the available space, making it possible to grow more crops in a smaller space. In contrast, conventional farming requires horizontal expanses of land to grow crops.
Conventional farming wastes a lot of water due to evaporation. Around 40% of the water goes back into the air instead of being absorbed by the plants.
Vertical farming lowers the evaporation to nearly zero because crops are grown indoors, so no water is evaporated, resulting in water conservation.
Vertical farms have higher control over environmental factors like light, humidity, and temperature. On the other hand, conventional farming is affected by weather conditions and seasonal changes.
Plants can thrive in the lack of soil. In traditional farming, most of the water evaporates and absorbs into the ground, making it difficult for plants to find water that is rich in nutrients.
Vertical farming includes delivering nutrient-rich water directly to plants’ roots through efficient irrigation methods like drip irrigation. This not only saves water but allows plants to flourish to their full potential.
Vertical Farming Watering Techniques
Vertical farms can use up to 90-98% less water than traditional farming, depending on what technique they use. There are three types of methods currently used in vertical farming. Let’s explore these watering techniques.
Hydroponics is the soilless technique of growing plants. In this popular method, plants are developed in nutrient-rich solutions instead of soil. The roots of plants are immersed in this nutrient solution, which enables them to grow in the same way as they would naturally. The nutrient-rich solution constantly circulates to keep its chemical balance.
Due to its numerous benefits over conventional soil-based farming, this innovative method has gained massive popularity in multiple settings, including greenhouses, urban agriculture, and home gardening.
Use Hydroponics When:
- You have a small space, or you need a scalable solution.
- You want to grow a huge variety of crops, hydroponics supports the majority of plant types, such as herbs, leafy greens, and fruiting plants.
- You require exact control over pH balance and nutrient levels for maximum plant growth.
- You want water conservation because hydroponic techniques use less water than conventional farming.
Aquaponics is a closed-loop and sustainable method of producing plants and raising fish at the same time. This technique uses fish waste and bacteria to feed plants rather than chemical solution. Plants are cultivated in a soilless separate tank, while fish are raised in a separate tank.
The waste that the fish produce is converted into nutrients for the plants. Water from a fish tank circulates into a plant tank, where they will filter and clean the water of bacteria and waste, and then it is cycled back to the fish tank.
Use Aquaponics When:
- You have ample space because aquaponic systems require more room for fish tanks and related equipment.
- You want to develop a closed-loop, sustainable technique that includes both producing fish and plants symbiotically.
- You’re interested in diversifying your output by growing both fish and crops for sale or consumption or sale.
- You want to use as few external inputs as possible since the fish waste supplies nutrients for plants, which lowers the need for chemical fertilizers.
Aeroponics is a most exciting and innovative method of developing plants without soil. In an aeroponic system, a nutrient-rich mist delivers vital nutrients directly to the plants’ roots. This technique uses zero soil and 90% less water compared to hydroponics.
The aeroponic system was developed by NASA in the 1990s. They wanted to develop a method to grow plants in environments with limited water and soil, like in space or on another planet. In this system, plants are hung in the air with their roots exposed. A fine mist or fog of a nutrient solution, which is a combination of water and essential minerals, is then sprayed directly into the roots.
Compared to soil-based methods, this method enables plants to absorb nutrients more efficiently, leading to higher yields.
Use Aeroponics When:
- You want fast plant growth and bigger yields because the enhanced oxygenation of plant roots in these techniques leads to rapid growth and development.
- You want to make the most of your available space, as aeroponic techniques encourage high-density planting.
- You want to lower the risk of pests and infections, as the aeroponic system needs less water and nutrients compared to hydroponics. So, there is less chance of disease transmission.
- You are highly concerned with sustainability because aeroponics uses less water and nutrients than hydroponics.
The Bottom Line- Vertical Farming Helps Water Conservation
Vertical farming technology is still developing and leading to the production of a sustainable and water-efficient agricultural future. This advanced technology offers the ability to use water efficiently when growing food, which reduces our dependency on freshwater resources. With vertical farming, we can continue to grow, solve significant challenges, and promote a more sustainable way of living.
If you already have a vertical farm and are looking for the best irrigation method, look no further than drip irrigation. A drip irrigation system is the most effective way to irrigate your indoor farm by delivering water directly to the roots of plants in a precise manner.
Feel free to reach out to us at 1-800-522-3747 and let our irrigation experts help you set up the best irrigation system for your vertical farm and enjoy optimal yields!