Last updated on September 20th, 2019
Vertical farming can be done from anywhere and has a number of different advantages along with disadvantages. We evaluate how you can start vertical farming.
Best Practices For Vertical Farming (Including Pros and Cons)
At Green Coast, we are focused on providing you with the best insights on how to live a better life through green living and renewable energy.
We believe that renewable energy and green living is packed with punchy terminology and hard to understand science.
We are here to help make complex ideas more straightforward. One that is growing tremendously is indoor vertical farming through greenhouses or DIY applications at your home.
Our guide will provide everything you need to know about vertical farming, including products, applications, best practices and more.
What is vertical farming?
Vertical farming refers to a method of growing plants or crops in vertically stacked layers. The concept behind this type of farming is quite different from conventional or horizontal farming. The growing methods may include the use of soil, aeroponic or hydroponic practices.
However, the basics of vertical farming remain the same while utilizing each of these methods.
What is Domestic Vertical Farming
In the past few years, innovators and inventors come up with numerous ideas for vertical farming at home. Now you have plenty of options when it comes to practicing vertical farming at the comfort of our home.
However, prior to setting up your own vertical farm, it is essential to know the construction and running cost of such a farm. You need suitable materials to build the structure and electricity to run the system.
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How To Start Vertical Farming At Home
To start vertical farming within or around your house, it is advisable to go for a prototype with a view to check the feasibility. In fact, you can set up a DIY vertical farm using the materials available in your home. This will save you some initial cost of establishing such a facility.
To begin with, make use of regular plastic bottles as efficient pots or containers. You can also automate the supply of water without using electricity. This method makes it possible to provide water through evaporation.
The procedure for building a DIY vertical farm within your home includes the following steps.
- Grab some water bottles of equal size
- Remove the bottom of each bottle by cutting it
- Use the lid of two of the bottles for using them as the tower and funnel
- Fill the pots you have made from the bottles with a mixture of dirt and manure
- Place these pots vertically on the rack you have dedicated for your vertical farm
- Use a bottle as the water tank. Make small holes in it to provide a slow but continuous supply of water
- Place this bottle on the tower and connect it with the funnel connecting all the pots
- Now it’s time to plant the seeds or young plants
If you have been successful in running this type of vertical farm at home, it’s time to take it to the next level. This transformation may not be cheap, as you need to purchase most of the essential components.
In order to build a fully automated vertical farm, you need a regular supply of electricity. The technology used for this purpose is innovative and expensive. Moreover, you must also know how to operate the vertical farm systems.
Products like AeroGarden make is easy for you to start your own indoor farm at your house.
Best Practices For Vertical Farming
Apart from being revolutionary, vertical farming is a more sustainable method of growing crops. It utilizes almost 70% less water and helps to save a reasonable amount of resources. In addition, it is an eco-friendly method, which proves to be efficient in almost every environmental condition.
Here are some of the best practices that you can employ while building your own vertical farm.
Hydroponics serves as the most viable system of growing plants without soil. It is gaining the attention of both domestic as well as commercial farmers, who are looking forward to setting up a vertical farm.
The basic concept behind this method is to grow plants in a nutrient-rich solution. This practice works by suspending plant roots in a solution, which offers a suitable amount of nutrients for the plants to grow.
However, it requires great attention and knowledge to grow plants using just a solution. The liquid needs to be circulated frequently and you need to maintain an ideal composition of such a solution.
Aeroponics is a technique that allows growing plants without soil and with a minimum amount of water. In fact, the plants literally grow in air, with roots exposed. The mist environment provides the necessary amount of moisture to the root, so that plant can grow.
No doubt, aeroponics is the most advanced and efficient way of growing crops through vertical farming. The amount of water consumed is 90% less than conventional farming. It is even more efficient than hydroponics system when it comes to vertical farming.
Moreover, while growing in an aeroponics system, the plants absorb more nutrients and mineral. Hence, the vegetables produced through this method are more fresh, tasty, nutrient-rich, and healthy.
This system is identical to the hydroponics system but it has some additional benefits. The idea behind this system is to create an ecosystem where plants and fish benefit each other. This suggests that when you grow fish in indoor ponds, the water becomes nutrient-rich. This water serves as a food source for the plants growing in your vertical farm.
On the other hand, plants will clean and purify the water and make it available for the fish. This saves you a lot, as there is no need to recycle the pond’s water frequently. A small-scale aquaponics system appears to be an ideal option while running a vertical farm at home.
Most of the commercial vertical farms also use this innovative system to enhance their yield. In addition, this allows them to make more profits by yielding two products at the same time.
This allows solving any of the financial issues faced by the owners of commercial vertical farms.
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Vertical Farming Requirements
Unlike other farming options, vertical farming systems require the latest structural and engineering equipment. The whole process of farming takes place through automation. This ensures to treat crops with utmost attention and care. As a result, it is possible to get the maximum amount of yield while utilizing minimum space.
Depending on the size, the height of a vertical farm may reach up to 30 feet. At such height, it is not viable to control the irrigation, lighting, and fertigation. Hence, automation is the only method to manage your vertical farm in a proper manner.
Given below are the various equipment and systems, necessary to run a vertical farm at home as well as commercially.
Climate Control System
Vertical farming allows us to grow plants under a controlled environment, it is essential to manage its different aspects. This includes controlling humidity, lighting, temperature, and CO2.
The climate control system relies on various devices, engineered specifically for this purpose.
Controlling the environment is crucial for the healthy growth of plants in a vertical farm. If you are starting this type of venture on a big scale, it would be appropriate to purchase an efficient climate control system.
This system provides a required amount of water, oxygen, and nutrients to the crop. The hydroponic system helps to grow plants without any soil; hence, you need to provide all the nutrients through a solution.
You need to add a calculated amount of nutrient for nurturing the plants. For this purpose, you need to be precise enough to feed the crop. Over or under-dose can damage the plants or affect their growth and yield.
Irrigation & Fertigation Controllers
This system allows you to save energy by managing irrigation and fertigation requirements of a vertical farm. These controllers are highly efficient and help to monitor different aspects of your vertical farm. You can use some compostable material to fertilize your system.
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List of Top Indoor Farming Products to Purchase Online
You are probably wondering how do I buy the right equipment to start indoor and vertical farming. Here are some amazing products that are easy to use and are affordable to start your indoor gardening.
Watex urban farming kit is an ideal option if you are building a vertical farm at Home. It has all the essential ingredients to start a vertical farm of your own. The pots are durable and lightweight. Moreover, UV-resistant color protects the pots from damage.
The design and layout of the whole structure make it perfect for placing at small places like a balcony or patio. This DIY kit offers easy installment. Even a person with minimum technical knowledge can assemble it.
It comes with an integrated irrigation system, which works on a micro-drip irrigation mechanism. The 12 pots setup offered by this vertical garden is highly suitable for the beginners.
The latest design of the AeroGarden Seed Starting System ensures healthier development of roots. This system allows you to remove and transplant the seedling without any hassle. Due to strong roots, the plant grows faster.
The AeroGarden helps to nurture the seeds by providing a sufficient amount of water and plant food. It promotes healthy growth of seeds through reliable germination. The seed starting system serves well if you plan to run a vertical farm at home.
It comes with durable—re-usable seed starter tray, plant food, and Grow Sponges (Biodegradable).
This specially formulated and patented pack of liquid nutrients offers sustainable germination and better growth. The liquid is capable of providing essential nutrients to the plants whether growing in hydroponics or aeroponics system.
These nutrients offer faster growth with maximum output. AeroGarden Liquid Nutrient is also beneficial for other houseplants. The liquid in both packs is sufficient for more than 100 feedings.
The pH buffering system works well with all types of hydroponic applications. Here is a guide on how to clean your Aerogarden system.
Combo: Year-Round Vertical Freestanding Garden Planter (4 Tier, White) Plus Expansion Packs For Indoor Outdoor Use: Altifarm Urban Grow System + Grow Lights + Greenhouse Cover + Mobility Wheels
This vertical farm system is ideal for both indoor and outdoor use. It comes with greenhouse cover, mobility wheels, grow lights, and 4 tier planter. It helps to grow all types of herbs or vegetables irrespective of the season.
Setting up this vertical farm is quite easy, as it just takes a few minutes to assemble all the parts. Its built-in watering system helps to maintain a regular supply of moisture for plants.
Advantages And Disadvantages Of Vertical Farming
Just like any other technological developments and innovations, vertical farming also has its pros and cons. To give you a better understanding, both the advantages and disadvantages of vertical farming are discussed below.
Vertical Farming Advantages
Here are some of the benefits and advantages of vertical farming.
- Improves Production— One of the most important vertical farming objectives is to get maximum production by using minimum land. It manages to grow plants in almost every condition. Hence, there is no need to wait for a specific season to grow your crops.
- Less Land Required— You can grow a sufficient amount of crops by utilizing less land. On the contrary, conventional farming uses more land and resources, which also increases the cost of production.
- Environment-Friendly— Vertical farming utilizes less amount of resources as compared to traditional farming. You need a minimum amount of water, space and fertilizers to grow your crop. Hence, it helps to overcome various environment-related issues by conserving natural resources.
- Immediate Availability of Agricultural Products— Unlike conventional farming, vertical farming allows growing your crops within an urban area. This makes it easy to provide a fresh supply of produce without any delay. The farm-to-market process reduces from days to just hours.
Vertical Farming Disadvantages
Here are some of the limitations, challenges, and disadvantages of vertical farming.
- Economic Viability— One of the major disadvantages associated with vertical farming is its cost. It is not even possible to calculate the economic feasibility of setting up a vertical farm. The major portion of investment relates to the purchasing of high-tech instruments. The cost of running such a farm also fluctuates depending on the requirements of the crop.
- A Threat to the Rural Community— There is no doubt, rural community relies heavily on agriculture for its sustenance. This is what drives their economy. By shifting farms from rural area to the urban part of the cities, we may cause trouble to the rural areas by disrupting their economy.
- Requires Constant Energy— Vertical farming depends mostly on electricity for running all its mechanism. You need electricity to provide a sufficient amount of light to the plants and run various high-tech equipment. Hence, this type of farming leaves behind some sort of carbon footprints.
- Complex Processes— Since vertical farming requires a lot of automation and electrical equipment, it is not an easy task for an ordinary person to handle this type of farming.
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Conclusion on Vertical Farming
Vertical farming is an innovative and sustainable method of growing crops. Unlike contemporary agricultural practices, vertical farming helps to yield more produce by utilizing minimum resources. The most amazing and encouraging aspect of this type of farming is that you can even set up a vertical farm at your home.
Despite some of its disadvantages, vertical farming appears to be the future of our agriculture.
What are your favorite components of vertical farming? Please let us know in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you.