If we are to continue to use the current method of agricultural practice, we will have to give up 100 million hectares to be farmed. We currently use 800 million hectares (38 per cent of the earth’s land surface) for farming.
The problem here is that with the population expected to reach in excess 8.3 billion in less than 50 years, we don’t exactly have 100 million hectares to spare.
It has been suggested that the solution for a lack of farming and living space lies in vertical farming. These are hybrid complexes designed to provide space for gardening and accommodation.
Hydroponic vertical farming
Vertical farming was first introduced in the early 80s by architect Ken Yeang
. It has been described by prominent advocate of vertical farms, Professor Dickson Despommier, as a “global solution” to our urban food needs.
In Singapore, with 20 per cent of the population to be at the retirement age by 2030, SPARK Architects have designed a vertical farm to cater for senior citizens which offers both ground-level farms and gardens open to inhabitants. Additionally, it offers upper-level plots designed for retirees for individual use.
A look as the master plan shows that the complex offers maximum sun exposure and vast views which encourages inhabitants to exercise and interact with others.
In New York, the idea of a potential 30-storey, 800,000 square metres of vertical farm located in one New York City block has been proposed. It would provide food for 50,000 people at 2,000 calories per day.
The future for vertical farming
Harvest Vertical Farm, Vancouver
In March 2014, the largest vertical farm in the world opened in Scranton built by Green Spirit Farms. It is a single story of 3.25 hectares with six levels that stock 17 million plants. It will grow lettuce, strawberries, tomatoes and peppers.
It is not surprising to see these upcoming propositions around the world.
Sky Green Farms in Singapore has opened the very first commercial vertical farming precinct.The new farm is able to produce 1 tonne of fresh veggies every other day, which are sold in local supermarkets.
Vertical farming will allow us to produce crops throughout the year using 70 per cent less water. We will be able to eliminate importing costs and also eradicate the use of agro-chemicals.
Management difficulties can also be eliminated with control software that rotates plant racks so they are equally exposed to light and water.
Here in Australia, vertical farms are also available from Vertical Farm Systems in Queensland. They focus on the agricultural aspect and warehouse farming and do not offer living space. The company was launched in 2012 to the global market.