Table of Contents
- 1 What is vertical farming in India and how does it help farmers?
- 2 Study of Vertical farming in India
- 3 Vertical farming advantages
- 4 Vertical farming disadvantages
What is vertical farming in India and how does it help farmers?
Farming has transformed from traditional farming methods with the use of hi-tech technologies because of various reasons such as adverse climatic conditions, scanty rainfall, destruction of arable soil, and an increase in populations, etc.
Vertical farming is a concept of farming in vertical layers such as hydroponics, aeroponics, and aquaponics, etc. It can be done at home, buildings, shipping containers, and tunnels, etc
In 1915 Gilbert Ellis Bailey coined the term vertical farming and also wrote a book titled “Vertical Farming”. In 1930, William Frederick Gerick engineered hydroponics at the University of California at Berkley. In 1980 Ake Olsson, a Swedish ecological farmer invented a spiral-shaped rail system for growing plants and suggested vertical farming means of crop production in the urban cities. The modern concept of vertical farming was proposed by Dickson Despommier in the year 1999.
The main advantage of vertical farming is the increased yield in less space of land. Another advantage is that farming can be done with a lot many varieties of crops in a smaller area. The yield approximately is 10 times higher than traditional agriculture. It is also called the soil less agriculture as the crops are grown with direct nutrients mixed in the water that drenches the root.
Study of Vertical farming in India
From 1915 the concept of vertical farming gradually became available to the modern-day farmers. Today vertical farming is utilized as the farming technique for every inch of land in rural and urban areas to grow more vegetables, to feed the hungry population in the world. In India also many farmers are switching towards the vertical farming techniques to see high returns from the farming business.
Vertical farming system
There are three types of systems in vertical farming
- Hydroponics – It is the method of growing plants in vertical space by the use of nutrients dissolved in water and the roots of the plants are drenched with water containing the nutrients. There is no soil required. This eliminates the soil born diseases, insects and pests present in the soil.
- Aeroponics – This is the concept of vertical farming wherein there are no containers required for growing crops, the mist or the nutrients are used instead of water. The plants are tied to the supporting structure and the roots are sprayed with nutrients. This type of farming requires less space, no soil, and less water to grow crops.
- Aquaponics – Here the vegetables are grown in the fish tanks which create the symbiotic relationship between the fish and plants. The nutrients rich fertigate waste from the fish is used to fertilize the plants. The hydroponic beds are used to cleanse the water to remove acids, chemicals, and gases such as ammonia, nitrates, and phosphates from the water. This is then recycled to the fish tanks.
Vertical farming project in India feasibility
Vertical farming techniques are being used in India and are getting traction across India.
India is one of the largest producers of vegetables, fruits, cereals, pulses, and other agricultural commodities. Many agricultural experts in India are working on the concept of vertical farming in India with growing crops in multi-storied building and gated communities in the metros cities of New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, and Chennai. Small scale vertical farming is seen in Nadia, Punjab, and West Bengal.
There are other startups such as Ideafarms, U-Farm Technologies, and Greenopiais are selling vegetables grown by vertical farming in India. Other startups are coming up in India which are adopting Vertical farming methods to grow vegetables and fruits in India. However, the vertical farming costs in India remains high, even though the governments sponsor subsidies.
Vertical farming advantages
The advantages are
- The crop yield per square feet of land is very high in Vertical Farming methods when compared to traditional farming.
- Food can be produced throughout the year without the risk of natural phenomena such as floods, uneven rains, heavy rains, snowfalls, hails, drought, dry spells, high temperatures, cold waves, and epidemics of pests and diseases.
- Vertical farming methods use 70% to 90% less water
- It does not require soil to do vertical farming.
- The food crops produced are organically produced and there is no need of using pesticides.
- Due to reduced logistics, the food is delivered fresh to the people
- There is 80% more harvest than the traditional farming
- Prevents pollution in cities and is responsible for greener cities.
Vertical farming disadvantages
The disadvantages of Vertical farming
- Initial vertical farming cost of establishing the systems is very high
- Hugh energy costs due to artificial lights and other automated systems used
- The excess nutrients contaminate the urban areas if not taken care properly
- A lot of plant residues, garbage wastage is produced around the urban areas needs to be handled properly
- The workforce must be trained with the various skills of handling the vertical farming systems
Vertical farming at home
Vertical farming can be done at home even in flats with balconies, or skyscrapers, and on the rooftops, etc.
With minimum costs, vertical farming can be started at home. It requires less water and systems to circulate water to the roots of the plants and systems to grow plants such as spiral structure or other structures which occupy less space.
You can create the bottle tower garden cost-effectively and simply just by following the steps given below.
- Get the plastic bottles of required numbers
- Cut the bottom of each bottle so that the lid of the bottles can be used as the bottom bottle of the tower and funnel
- Two holes are created in each of the bottles with few inches from the top of the lid one on each side that will act as a drainage for the excess water
- Soil and manure mix is used to fill the bottle from the bottom up to 2 to 4 inches
- Few bottles are used for storing the water which drips water slowly from the tiny holes
- The whole network holds on firmly together
- Small windows are made on the soil-filled bottles through which the root or the seedlings are planted.
The types of structures of vertical farming are shown in the diagram below
Vertical farming is the answer to many types of critical problems in Indian agriculture such as lack of rains, lack of space, lack of arable soil, overuse of pesticides and fertilizers, etc. Some of the hindrances in adopting vertical farming for Indian farmers such as electricity availability throughout the day, there is no minimum price guarantee, water scarcity, and no control over market glut, etc. Also, the initial cost is very high for vertical farming and can be adopted only by large corporate. There is no proper education among the Indian farmers which is another drawback.
Slowly and steadily the use of Vertical Farming will improve in India and has got a great future as the advantages are higher than the disadvantages.