All you need to know about protected cultivation, or vertical farming

What is the News?

According to experts, all crops grown via vertical farming methods are usually over 95 percent water efficient.

Background and Concept of Vertical Farming

In 1915, Gilbert Ellis Bailey coined the term “vertical farming” and wrote a book titled “Vertical Farming”. 

In the 1980s, Åke Olsson, a Swedish ecological farmer, invented a spiral-shaped rail system for growing plants and suggested vertical farming as a means for producing vegetables in cities.

The modern concept of vertical farming was proposed in 1999 by Professor Dickson Despommier. 

What is Vertical Farming?

Instead of horizontally on the ground like traditional farming, vertical farming grows crops in vertical, stacked layers without putting too much impact on land and water resources which are scarce. 

Vertical farming systems like aeroponics and hydroponics come under the broad umbrella ambit of ‘protected cultivation’ where one can control and regulate multiple variables like water, soil, temperature, humidity and so on.

What are the different types of Vertical Farming?

Hydroponics: It involves growing plants in nutrient solutions that are free of soil. The plant roots are submerged in the nutrient solution which is frequently monitored and circulated to ensure that the correct chemical composition is maintained.

Aeroponics: In this, plants are grown in an environment where air with very little water or mist and without soil is used.

In this system, the plant roots are suspended in the air. So, the roots are nourished by misting the root zones with a nutrient solution on a continual basis by using a fine sprayer to ensure that the roots get sufficient oxygen.

Aquaponics: The term aquaponics is coined by combining two words: aquaculture, which refers to fish farming, and hydroponics—the technique of growing plants without soil, to create symbiotic relationships between the plants and the fish. 

In this system, fish are grown in indoor ponds producing nutrient-rich waste that is used as a feed source for the plants in the vertical farm. The plants, in turn, filter and purify the wastewater, which is recycled to the fishponds.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of Vertical Farming?

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Source: This post is based on the article “All you need to know about protected cultivation, or vertical farming” published in Indian Express on 24th April 2022.

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