The practice of vertical farming may be the best way to achieve non-GMO produce for our continually growing population without the use of chemicals or pesticides. The concept is quite simple – creating stacks of plants in a sealed warehouse environment where crops are fed and watered in an optimum setting to promote the perfect plant or vegetable. These artificial environments make sure these plants only have perfect “weather” each and every day. Light, temperature and nutrients are precisely controlled and the nearly completely automated process allows for no chance of contaminants, disease, bad weather or pests that can plague traditional farming methods.
Vertical farming works best for crops that grow quickly, like herbs, edible flowers and lettuces. Maarten Vandecruys, chief executive of Urban Crops, is one pioneer in vertical farming. His company has created a system that can raise healthier, more nutrient dense plants in less area than a traditional warehouse or farm system. His system ensures that vegetables are picked at their height of readiness when their nutritional value is at its peak.
http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20170405-how-vertical-farming-reinvents-agricultureMany of these companies look to fine tune and sell their systems to other farmers to help spread the new farming practice, and someday, may even sell directly to supermarkets.
The ability to shop directly from a vertical farm or the possibility of even having a grow-at-home model for individual families is currently in the works.Having a large vertical farm located near large cities can be instrumental for getting produce to the millions of urban dwellers while the fruit and vegetables are at their peak. Long transport times in non-climate controlled trucks damage a great deal of produce before it is even delivered and vastly decreases nutritional value. The closer a farm is to the people who will consume their goods decreases fuel and transport costs making some farmers looking for locations just outside of city limits where land and warehouse prices are often considerably cheaper. Traditional farmers have always had to deal with temperamental seasons, blights, pests, damaging storms and other calamities that can ruin an entire season’s worth of produce and income.
With the increased volatility of our changing climate, crop production can be more easily managed in an impervious indoor atmosphere. Creating nutritious, flavorful and aesthetically pleasing produce is not an easy task no matter how you decide to grow them. As these programs start showing their capability to produce superior products more farmers will start looking to the benefits of these new methods.
Pretty soon, one of these futuristic farms may be coming to a city near you.Maria Dampman