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Vertical Farming A Sustainable Form of

Agriculture
Niladri Shekhar Dandapat (Roll G15034)
PGDM (GM) 2015-2016

Introduction
According to the United States Census Bureau, the world population exceeded 7 billion on March 12, 2012. This increase has been
continuous since the end of the Great Famine and the Black Death in 1350. According to the UN Projections the population is
expected to reach between 8.3 and 10.9 billion by 2050 with countries like China, India, United States and Indonesia contributing
most to this pie. In order to feed this large population the food production must increase by at least 70 percent. This amidst climate
change, Land and water constraints, increasing urbanization, environmental degradation, changing income and diets, positive health
outcomes can be achieved only if the necessary investment is undertaken and the WORLD as a whole focus on policies conducive to
agricultural production. The decisions we take will have a profound effect on the wild species and habitats and the planet as a
whole. There are two popular views first being the wild-life farming (which boosts densities of wild population on farmland) and land
sparring (which minimizes demand for farmland by increasing yield). My approach is more focused on Vertical Farming a process
which is the combination of skyscraper and greenhouse effect together to form the advanced level of agricultural practices. The
whole article will be divided into three segments the Planet, People and Profit.
What is Vertical Farming?
Vertical Farming is a concept of agriculture of creating plant life within a skyscraper greenhouse or on vertically inclined surfaces.
Plants are suspended in a ph neutral medium and nutrient rich water is pumped through allowing the plants to absorb what they
need. An air pump oxygenates the water for the roots. The water is recycled, until the nutrients are nearly all absorbed by the plants
and then disposed of in a responsible way.

Fig A model of Gravity based vertical farming

Planet
Threat to Biodiversity Recently, agriculture has in many places lost its local character, and has become incorporated into the global
economy. This has led to increased pressure on agricultural land for exchange commodities and export goods. More land is being
diverted from local food production to cash crops for export and exchange; fewer types of crops are raised, and each crop is raised
in much greater quantities than before. Thus, ever more land is converted from forest (and other natural systems) for agriculture for
export, rather than using land for subsistence crops. All forms of farming have had severe impact on biodiversity, according to
studies since 1900s some 75 percent of plant genetic diversity has been lost as farmers worldwide have left their multiple local
varieties for genetically high yielding varieties. Some 30 percent of livestock breeds are at risk of extinction; six breed are lost each
month. The rapid expansion of industrial and green revolution agriculture, intensive livestock production, industrial fisheries and
aquaculture
Threat to Soil System Erosion is the process by which the surface of Earth gets worn down, ideally it is caused by natural elements
such as wind and glacial ice. Soil formation is extremely slow and it takes thousands of years to form just a few centimeters of soil, in
cold and dry climate it takes even longer time. If not disturbed by man the soil is usually covered by a canopy of shrubs and trees by

dead and decaying leaves or by a thick mat of grass. The leaves and branches of tress, and the layer of grass absorb the force of rain
drops and the root system of plants hold the soil together. Even in absence of rain the roots of the grass which extend several
meters into the ground help tie down the soil and keep it from blowing away. If this layer of vegetation is stripped away soil will be
vulnerable to damage. For the purpose of civilization when the land is ploughed and when grass is removed from semi-arid land the
soil is laid bare to the erosive action of wind and water. Cattle sheep and goats grazing accelerates the process.
Threat to Water system Agriculture is one of the single largest user of freshwater and is one biggest contributor to the cause of
degradation of surface and ground water resources through erosion and chemical runoff. Due to tillage and ploughing, sediments
carrying phosphorous and pesticides are adsorbed to soil which eventually leads to siltation of river beds. This contamination of
surface water leads to dysfunction of ecological system in surface waters as most of the top predators (including human) in the food
chain are facing symptoms of growth inhibition and reproductive failure. Public health is also impacted from eating contaminated
fish. Due to waterlogging, the nitrate and other toxic residues are leaching to ground water which creates a serious threat to public
health.
Downstream water users often fall victim to this development of irrigation, the impact of agriculture in this respect can be best
viewed if we take a look into the case of Aral Sea, it is one big example of how poorly planned and poorly executed agricultural
practices can devastate a once productive region. Environmentalist now claim that the shrinking of the Aral Sea is one of the planets
worst environmental disaster, Formerly one of the four largest lakes in the world with an area of 68,000 km2 (26,300 sq mi), the Aral
Sea has been steadily shrinking since the 1960s after the rivers that fed it were diverted by Soviet irrigation projects. By 2007, it had
declined to 10% of its original size, splitting into four lakes the North Aral Sea, the eastern and western basins of the once far larger
South Aral Sea, and one smaller lake between the North and South Aral Seas.[5] By 2009, the southeastern lake had disappeared and
the southwestern lake had retreated to a thin strip at the extreme west of the former southern sea; in subsequent years, occasional
water flows have led to the southeastern lake sometimes being replenished to a small degree.

The Aral Sea in 1989 (left) and 2014 (right)

Vertical Farming the only remedy to help the planet survive


The vertical farming is the advanced level of agriculture technology which can be practiced without the availability of land, with
natural renewable resources of energy such as wind powered turbine and solar panels. The vertical farming architecture is
categorized into various sections that there are energy management, water management it also known as hydroponics, cropping
method and harvesting manner etc. A step by step description of the different processes are given below
Renewable Resources - Vertical Farming system is designed for the future purposes where the sources such as electricity, low level
of water availability are may or may not be occurred in the future days. So in the way of handling those situations the system
involved with the renewable resourcing process, where the wind mill can be used to generate electricity for the water pump process
for supplying water to the crops, and solar energy are also added additionally to generate power for the producing of artificial
sunlight to the crops.

Reaping Process - The reaping process also known as water management process, thus especially the water is going to be managed
in the vertical farming structure. Where some of the methods are going to be discussed such as rain water harvesting method, this
method explains that water which are collected for the rain are too passed through pipes to crops, so by getting of the rain water
through indirect process will get an healthy and natural yielding, these activities are done through the hydroponic system it is stated
as the nutrient content are going to be passed on the crops through the pipes, while flowing of water to the crops regularly the
mineral is also to be added in the water.
Working of Hydroponics - Hydroponics methodology is the important process of the vertical farming system, where this has to be
constructed with the excelling as the crops are planted with the soil with the connection of the pipeline these pipeline connection
will require the injector to pull the force of the water and it consists of sufficient power generation.
And filter also available in the hydroponics system to remove the wastages in the water and it is built with the mixture that the
minerals are kept in the separate storage whenever the need of bug killer minerals also can be mixed with the water to protect the
crop from the insects which destroys the crops entirely, so hydroponic is done in the multiple ways to grow crops.
Waste Reduction - The waste reduction is the one of the benefit of the vertical farming technique where in case of land farming the
crops or plants get damaged due to heavy rain and pesticides, where in case of the vertical farming the waste is reduced by the
interior agriculture methods, and energy for the vertical farming are usually managed with the solar and wind power so that the
energy utilized are renewable sources and vehicular transportation also the important phase of the vertical farming where
transportation costs are reduced.

Interior Farming System

People
Labor force participation rates are usually highest in the poorest countries. More people are employed out of necessity than by
choice, as only a fraction of the working-age population can afford not to work. In these countries, low unemployment figures in
conjunction with high labor participation rates result in large swathes engaged in vulnerable employment and many in working
poverty. This holds for many economies in sub-Saharan Africa, where female participation rates feature among the highest in the
world. Poverty is the principal driver of the high rate of child labor in agriculture. Around 60 percent of all child laborers 129 million
girls and boys work in agriculture. More than two-thirds of them are unpaid family members. The agricultural sector has the
highest incidence of both unpaid child labor and early entry into the workforce, which often occurs between the ages of five and
seven. Additionally many young farmers who are looking at earning an income through agriculture have "lack of capital" as their
number one problem. Capital, they often mean is the seed money to start operations or expand their business.
Vertical Farming and People
An integrated technology as vertical farming technique needs to be developed where the system has to be completely controlled
with the computers and other embedded systems such as sensors etc. the system will analyze water, air and mineral maintenance
and simultaneously do air quality management (Carbon dioxide supplied).

For this we will need a brigade of workforce, multiple education domain needs to be created so as to maintain a pipeline of
workforce, Scientific cadre, Extension cadre and Producers. A small workforce need as identified by the USDA has been given below

1.
2.

55% have degrees from colleges of agriculture and life sciences, forestry and natural resources, and veterinary medicine
45% come from allied disciplines including biological sciences, engineering, health sciences, business and communication

Workforce Needs

27%
47%
15%
11%

Science and Engineering


Agriculutre, food system, renewable energy and enivronmental SME's / Consultants
Education, Communication & Governmental Services

Management & Business

Source USDA
To handle research, multi- and trans-disciplinary skills, skills to translate/transfer research to the end user we will have to
train new researchers, extension agents, the workforce, and agricultural producers. Universities will have to offer an
education compatible with our future needs such as renewable energies, biochemistry and agronomy.
Profit
The waste reduction is the one of the benefit of the vertical farming technique where in case of land farming the crops or plants get
damaged due to heavy rain and pesticides, where in case of the vertical farming the waste is reduced by the interior agriculture
methods, and energy for the vertical farming are usually managed with the solar and wind power so that the energy utilized are
renewable sources and vehicular transportation also the important phase of the vertical farming where transportation costs are
reduced.
Now a days there is increment of vertical farming and green houses are developed where it is fully build with the hydroponic and
renewable resource based, which completely created with the advanced management, where greenhouse are not fit for the earth
environment but the combined of vertical farming and green house where carbon dioxide are passed over the outer location of the
building. By applying of vertical farming there will be the maximum crop yielding, make the temperature controlled manner.
The key profit points of vertical farming can be summarized as follows
Grow what you want - In demand fruits and veggies can be grown all year round despite changes in weather, there will be no
weather related crop failures due to droughts, floods pests
Know your food is pesticide free - Instead of worrying about whether or not your food will make you sick, this all organic approach
promises fresh and toxin-free produce
Preserve the environment - Rather than having to venture into the rainforest and harm the last few remaining untouched parts of
the earth, we can help preserve the environment and grow our food in cities also reduce fossil fuel as there will be no use of tractors
or diesel pumps etc.
More Affordable Produce - Although startup costs are high, it is a cost effective model that will save money down the line as the
result is a higher productivity farmers will be able to use 1500 sq. ft. of plant growth surface are within 150 sq. ft. of floor space
Conclusion
Vertical farm offers among other benefits like re-growth of forests and carbon minimization, is a local food economy, a shortened
route from producer to consumer if only we introduce vertical farms to society.