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Vertical Farming

Vertical Farming

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Published by Amrit Kumar

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Published by: Amrit Kumar on Nov 09, 2010
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04/11/2013

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Vertical Farming
Future of Food  
Amrit Kumar (10BM60010)Vinod Gupta School of ManagementIIT Kharagpur
 
 
Abstract
³What¶s more, population increases will soon cause our farmers to run out of land. The amount of arable land per person decreased from about an acre in 1970 to roughly half an acre in 2000 and isprojected to decline to about a third of an acre by 2050, according to the United Nations. With billionsmore people on the way, before we know it the traditional soil-based farming model developed over the last 12,000 years will no longer be a sustainable option.´One solution to this problem is vertical farming, growing food inside and on high-rise buildings. Thesebuildings will be nowhere but in the heart of the cities. If implemented successfully, they can help inurban renewal, continuous production of safe and varied food supply throughout the year. Not onlythis, there are many more advantages of vertical farming. Crops grown in these high rises won¶t beaffected by vagaries of weather such as drought, flood, pests etc. Crops will be grown organicallywithout the use of any fertilizer, herbicide and pesticide. There are many more direct and indirectbenefits of it.
Introduction
Today, over 800 million hectares is committed to agriculture, or about 38% of the total landmass of the Earth. Over the next 50 years, the human population is expected to rise to at least 8.6 billion,requiring an additional 10
9
hectares to feed them using current technologies. This quantity of farmlandis no longer available. Thus, alternative strategies needs to be found out for obtaining an abundantand varied food supply without disturbing the few remaining functional ecosystems.With ever increasing population the food requirements is on constant rise. There has been foodshortage in multiple countries which is countered by imports from other countries. Not only thedemand for food is increasing day by day but the same time fertile agricultural land is decreasing.This situation will aggravate the problem of food shortage in forcible future. One solution for this isVertical farming.Vertical farming is not about growing crops on roof top gardens but what it means is growing crops onhigh rise buildings which would be made of glass and steel and filled with artificial light. Where in say,tomatoes can be grown on 1
st
floor and wheat on 12
th
floor.
Dr. Dickson Despommier, a Columbia University professor who spearheads the Vertical Farming Project,developed the idea of vertical farming with help from his public health and microbiology students. ³The reasonwhy we need vertical farming is that horizontal farming is failing,´ he said. ³If current practices don¶t change bymid-century, he points outs, an area bigger than Brazil would need to become farmland just to keep pace with thedemand.´
 
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2007 united nation report estimates that there will be nearly 5 billion urban dwellers worldwide bythe year 2030, which is 3.2 billion today. Large amount of land will be required to feed this growingpopulation depending on the change in yield per hectare. Now converting the forest land for meetingthe requirements of the ever increasing agricultural and will cause a severe damage to the earth andits ecosystem. Properly designed Vertical farm can be the solution for this problem which willeliminate the need to create additional farm land and hence conserve our ecosystem and create acleaner environment.
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Farming inside a building in a controlled environment can produce crops year round which are notpossible in most places in traditional farming.
 A
ll season farming will enhance the productivity by 4 to6 times depending on the crop from the same area of farmed surface.With some crops, such asstrawberries, productivity enhances as much as 30 times.Research has shown that 30% of harvested crops get wasted in transit from the rural location to theurban city centre though this figure varies from country to country. Developed country with goodinfrastructure shows lower percentage of wastage. This problem will be encountered as the crops canbe sold at the same place where it is grown in the midst of the city. With no transportation requirementmultiple benefits can be derived such as less spoilage, infestations and zero transportation cost ascompared with traditional mode of farming.Despommier suggests that, if dwarf versions of certain crops are used (N
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developed the dwarf wheat, which is smaller in size but richer in nutrients), and grown year-round, a 30-story building witharea of 5 acres would yield a yearly crop analogous to that of 2,400 acres of traditional farming.
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Crop grown on the traditional outdoor farming are subjected to extreme natural conditions such asundesirable temperatures or rainfall amounts, monsoons, hailstorms, tornadoes, flooding, wildfires,and severe droughts. With the threat of global warming the risk of adverse condition has all the moreincreased. Recent devastating floods in Pakistan have affected 2.6 million acres of cultivated land,which has resulted in the loss of crops worth $2.35 billions. This also leads to even more devastatinglosses in topsoil.India¶s agricultural output could be reduced by 30% with the changes in rain patternsand temperature.
 A
s vertical farming provides a controlled environment, the productivity of vertical farms would bemostly independent of weather and protected from extreme weather events.
 A
lthough the controlledenvironment of vertical farming negates most of these factors, there are still some threats fromearthquakes and tornadoes to the vertical farming infrastructure. But these threats are not present atall the places.

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