When world population is growing at an accelerated rate and is anticipated to exceed 9 billion by 2050, there is need of increased food production. Vertical Farming Market or vertical agriculture has the potential to fulfil these growing demands. Vertical agriculture presents the potential opportunities to address food security.
In vertical farming practice, crops are grown in vertically stacked layers in order to save space and use minimal energy and water for irrigation. For example, one hectare of vertical farming is correspondent to nine hectares of traditional outdoor farming that results in saving almost 200 tons of water every day.
For modern vertical farming, indoor farming methods and controlled-environment agriculture (CEA) technologies concepts are used where all environmental conditions can be controlled.
Benefits of vertical farming:
Vertical agriculture offers an environmentally responsible and sustainable way of agriculture practice that reduces distribution chains to offer lower emissions, has negligible effect of climate, minimal pesticides usage, supplies higher-nutrient produce, less area requirement, and considerably cuts water usage and runoff.
The method of vertical farming will be especially helpful in urban areas as the number of people living in those areas is going to rise day by day. Vertical farming makes it possible to produce fresh greens and vegetables nearby to urban populations that will help meet growing global food demands.
Moreover, you can avail fresh local produce from vertical farms where farmers can grow indoors year-round by controlling temperature, light, water, and many times carbon dioxide levels as well. Usually, fresh produce from vertical farms travels only a few miles to reach grocery store shelves compared to conventional produce.
Generally, there are three processes adopted in the vertical farming systems which are: hydroponics, aquaponics, and aeroponics.
- Hydroponics: This is the predominant method in vertical farming that relies on supplying plants with nutrient-rich water in a closed system free of soil.
- Aquaponics: In this method, aquaculture and hydroponics are combined in the same ecosystem. In a closed-loop system e.g. fish tank, aquatic animals like fish are grown that produce waste and it is high in nutrients. It is then used as a nutrient suppliant to grow plants in a grow tray containing soil.
- Aeroponics: For this method, air with little water or mist is used to grow plants without the use of soil. Aeroponics is less water-intensive than the other two methods and can use up to 90% less water than traditional farms, according to the National Center for Appropriate Technology.
To succeed in vertical farming, there are three important things that are required; first is hardware to monitor plants and operate at scale; second one is software to control the light, temperature, and humidity of the growing plants; and third is strong biology to make sure the plants themselves are healthy and getting enough nutrients and attention they need.
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Let’s delve into some details about the vertical farming market:
The market for vertical farming will observe the market growth in the forecast period of 2021 to 2028. As per the analysis of Data Bridge Market Research, the market is growing with the CAGR of 26.8% in the forecast period of 2021 to 2028 and is anticipated to reach USD 21,871.19 million by 2028.
Key factors that are expected to boost the growth of the vertical farming market in the forecast period are;
- Increasing demand for the clean organic food is an important factor that is driving the growth of the vertical farming market.
- Secondly, pollution has major economic consequences in terms of health, lack of productivity, health care costs and disruption to the environment. Therefore, the growing concerns regarding pollution free environment is driving the market growth.
- Optimum utilization of vertical space, balanced energy utilization, easy crop monitoring and harvesting, and reduction in arable land are a few more factors leading to growth in the market.
- The increasing utilization of IoT sensors in crop production has provided with the abundant opportunities for the growth of the vertical farming market.
- Moreover, growing urban population and increase in adoption of technology driven agriculture are expected to provide profitable growth opportunities to the vertical farming market players.
However, the limitations in the variety of crops involved in vertical farming lead to economic viability which hinders the growth of the vertical farming market. Also, high initial investments and involvement of nascent technology obstructs the market growth.
The rising maintenance of air circulation in vertical farming is a major challenge for the vertical farming market.