Is ‘vertical farming’ the farming of the future?
New company Bowery certainly thinks so.
From polluted soil to water shortages to over-population and armyworms, there’s more than a handful of insomnia-inducing threats against our global food supply, but Bowery Farming may be the answer we’ve been searching for.
What is vertical farming?
First, what is vertical farming, anyways? The premise is quite simple, really. Stack soil, seeds and science, and voila! Food!
Less simply? Vertical Farming is indoor farming where plants are stacked in beds on top of each other to maximize space, with LED lights replacing the sun. Temperature, airflow, water, nutrients and all other variables are meticulously controlled. No bugs. No chemicals. And no nasty interventions by Mother Nature. Think the antithesis of ‘organic’ but with all the associated benefits of ULTRA-organic; suitably dubbed post-organic. Vertical Farming is essentially an extension of hydroponic farming, which most of us tend to immediately associate with pot! Growing marijuana indoors has many perks, particularity because in most of the world, it’s still pretty illegal.
But vertical farming is LEGAL. Very legal. And a really brilliant idea.
According to Bowery Farming, vertical farming is 100 times more productive than the same square footage of traditional farming. Bananas! (But we’re not vertical farming those quite yet.)
Plus, without meddling Mother Nature in the mix, vertical farming knows no seasons. It can be done 365 days a year!
Will vertical farming save the planet?
Launched in late February, Bowery is already growing more than 100 different types of crops. Good news again for those hoarding canned goods for the ever-approaching apocalypse! Currently, 70% of the world’s water supply is used for agriculture. From farm to fork, raising 1 pound of beef require 2,400 gallons of water, whereas 1 pound of wheat only requires 25 gallons!
Yep, you read that correctly! It takes 96 times more water to eat a burger vs. bread. If you want to get political about saving the planet, cut out the beef, baby!
Here’s another fun fact: It takes 147 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of corn. That beef we love to eat so much requires 1,000 pounds PLUS of corn in just a few months! This really puts your water footprint into perspective.
Suddenly using all this land, water and food (ie, the corn) seems more and more wasteful. Also a sobering thought when you consider that by 2050 the world population is expected to hit 10 billion people! This will mean needing 70% more food than we’re currently producing! Yikes!
On top of this, in low HDI countries, 40% of available food is lost on the farm or during handling and storage. But if we begin constructing and promoting vertical farms in communities all over the world (the end goal for Bowery) this gross amount of wasted produce could quickly drop to next to nil.
God bless technology!
Other players in the vertical farming game:
For now, Bowery’s vertical farm raised produce is only available in the New York area in places like Whole Foods and a few local restaurants. Other players in the vertical farming space include Freight Farmers, Edenworks, and Japan’s Fujitsu. Only time will tell if the vertical farming industry will be the answer to our produce prayers as they currently (hope and) claim.
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