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Stacking Crops: The Future of Vertical Farming (Gabriella Klimov)

What do we picture when we talk about farming? Is it endless fields of crops and raising cattle, poultry and a history of agriculture that dates back thousands of years ago? 


A very modern twist on this term, vertical farming proposes a possible alternative to the average 445-acre farm, taking a different approach than the conventional agriculture we are all familiar with. But how effective is it and will it change the way we see agriculture forever? 


Picture crops growing on top of each other, shelved away in optimal indoor spacing with artificial lighting. This is the vision of vertical farming. 

 

Because of this, vertical farms use up to 95% less water than traditional outdoor farms and the nutrients crops receive are predetermined and controlled. Temperatures and humidity levels are closely monitored, providing year-round harvests regardless of the season. 


According to the World Economic Forum, these farms are “yielding up to 390 times more crops per square foot” than the traditional farm, proving they have been successfully implemented and are profitable, maybe even more than traditional farming.


Like every other invention,  these benefits come with their disadvantages. Vertical farms require proper equipment, technology, employees and energy, which surmounts any cost of a traditional farm. 


Additionally, the land shortage crisis vertical farming claims to be combating may not be that severe. A more prominent issue might lie in how our land is being used, not necessarily a lack of it. Vertical farming might not be the best solution, since it can be solved by implementing more eco-conscious agricultural techniques. 

Regardless of whether vertical farming would improve modern farming and consumers’ lives, this method is becoming increasingly common. With newly gained popularity, the costs and benefits of vertical farming will have to be properly weighed to decide the future of our agricultural systems.


Gabriella Klimov is a high school junior living in New York. In affiliation with a professor at the University of Canberra, she is currently working on a research project that is focused on analyzing reluctance towards climate treaty participation in members of the climate regime. She has a passion for the issues surrounding climate change and sustainability and is looking forward to studying environmental policy in college.


Sources:

Alter, Lloyd. "Vertical Farms: Wrong on so Many Levels." Treehugger, 13 Dec. 2019, www.treehugger.com/vertical-farms-wrong-so-many-levels-4857503.

Myers, Joe. "This company grows crops inside, stacked on top of one another." World Economic Forum, 4 Sept. 2019, www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/09/vertical-farming-agriculture-aerofarms/

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