Vertical farming: has sustainable farming reached new heights?

As the global population continues to grow at a rapid pace, the demand for natural resources, including food, rapidly increases. In order to meet this demand, as well as protect the environment from an abundance of human induced problems, the cultivation of crops must be sustainable.

Currently, 50% of inhabitable land is used in agricultural production, taking away living space of millions of people, exhausting soils, evicting native species and driving biodiversity loss [1,2]. With this huge pressure, scientists are hard at work innovating new ways to farm sustainability in order to meet long and short-term environmental goals without the continued exploitation of the environment.

Vertical farming (VF), a concept first coined by American geologist Gilbert Ellis Bailey in 1915, is a cutting-edge farming technique which uses high-rise infrastructure to layer space to grow crops vertically, as opposed to horizontally across land. VF allows for highly controlled conditions such as temperature, light, nutrients and water, making it highly efficient whilst limiting waste.

The largest vertical farm in operation

Currently, the largest VF is Artesian Farm in Michigan, USA; a family run business which grows a mammoth 17 million plants over a tiny 3.25 hectares! [3,4]. If you visit the Artesian Farm website, you will see how they present the benefits of their farming technique for their customers, the wider region of the Midwest and the global environment.

Artesian Farm explains that because the conditions of crop growth is controlled to such a high degree, there is no need for any bug control or pesticides, which adds to the freshness of the food as well as nutritional value. They continue by explaining how they support local businesses in a range of cities such as Detroit and India